Gaming motherboards have a typical look: red, with specs pasted onto anything resembling an open surface. So it’s nice to see MSI’s latest board, which is almost entirely black and relatively free of clutter.
But this board isn’t just about looks: the Z170A SLI Plus is a Skylake motherboard that supports multiple GPUs — and offers an array of other features.
The motherboard supports NVIDIA’s SLI and AMD’s CrossFire, meaning you can connect two compatible graphics card and crank up the framerate. Turbo M.2 means data transfer speeds up to 32Gbps for internal hard drives, and when that’s not fast enough the built-in RAMDisk utility caches files you use a lot right in the memory.
On the back of your box you’ll find HDMI, of course, as well as ports for legacy VGA and DVI devices.
There are four USB 3.1 in the rear, for transfer speeds up to 10Gbps, alongside a couple of USB 2.0 ports for input devices that don’t benefit from that sort of speed.
Some of MSI’s most interesting recent features are related to the firmware, and power-hungry users will be happy to see one-button overclocking thanks to OC Genie 4. That’s right: to overclock your processor, all you need to do is hit a physical button.
The new Click BIOS 5 means you’ve got an attractive high resolution interface to customize everything about your setup. There’s the EZ mode, which limits your options to avoid confusion, and advanced mode for people who really like to dig down and configure everything.
If you’ve ever been frustrated during a build by not being sure why the machine won’t turn on, there’s one feature you might love: LEDs that make troubleshooting easier. These indicate whether the problem is with the RAM, CPU, or VGA – which could save you all sorts of time during setup and later on.
MSI has a list of places where to buy the board, if you’re ready to do some more research.