Intel will be launching their Haswell refresh in about a month. The refresh will be compatible with the next generation 9-Series chipset compatible H97 and Z97 motherboards. HardwareLuxx got a first look at MSI’s upcoming Z97 motherboard prototypes at an NDA briefing.
The Z97 motherboards that were shown by MSI are still prototype so they lack heatsinks that will ship on the final retail models. The models shown are the Z97 Gaming 7 and Z97 Gaming 3. We do know that MSI will also offer Z97 motherboards under their XPower and Legacy brands.
The Z97 Gaming 7 will feature a 12 phase DigitALL Power design and the latest LGA1150 socket which will feature Haswell and Haswell refresh processors. There are four dual channel DDR3 slots which support overclocked memory up to 2666 MHz. For expansion slots you have three PCI-Express 3.0 x16, four PCI-Express 3.0 x1 and the M.2 interface to support NGFF solid state drives. For storage there are 8 SATA 6GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. For overclockers MSI has added voltage checkpoints, power on / off buttons, reset button and the OC Genie button. The board will also have MSI’s audio boost 2.0 and KillerLAN technologies as well as MSI’s Military Class IV components.
The Z97 Gaming 3 will be a mid-tier offering in the Z97 gaming lineup. The board will have a 6 phase DigitALL power design and will support the latest Haswell and Haswell refresh processors. It will also feature four memory slots that support memory up to 2666 MHz. For expansion slots you have two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-Express 3.0 x1 slots, three legacy PCI slots and the M.2 interface. The board will have three SATA 6GB/s ports. There are no OC features, but the board will have MSI’s audio boost 2.0 and KillerLAN technologies as well as MSI’s Military Class IV components.
MSI also released the following press release about their Z97 motherboards:
At CeBIT MSI proudly introduces its 3rd generation of Intel based GAMING motherboards, with support for next generation Intel 22 nm and 14 nm processors. Focusing on the key elements that matter to gamers, MSI made some significant improvements addressing speed, sound & stability.
With the introduction of Audio Boost 2 featuring Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2, debuting Direct Audio Power, gamers get to experience the next level in sound quality. Gamers can also push their SSDs to the limit with M.2 and SATA-Express, delivering up to 67% performance increase over conventional SATA3 solutions. Additionally, MSI puts its focus on making the GAMING look & feel even more awesome, while building further on its strong foundation with the best specs and features that gamers wish for, such as Killer Game Networking, Audio Boost and USB Audio Power.