Intel is expected to launch the next generation 9-Series chipset on May 11th which will include the latest Haswell refresh processors and various Z97 and H97 motherboards from different companies. It looks like MSI’s entire Z97 Gaming Motherboard line has been leaked.
MSI’s Z97 Gaming Motherboard series is actually made up of six different motherboards, all with their own specific features and target customer. They are as follows:
– MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC
– MSI Z97 Gaming 7
– MSI Z97 Gaming 5
– MSI Z97 Gaming 3
– MSI H97 Gaming 3
– MSI Z97I Gaming
These are the gaming series, MSI’s very popular overclocking (MPOWER / XPOWER) board have not been revealed just yet. Let’s go into detail on these boards.
The MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC will be the flagship motherboard in the gaming series. Like all boards in this series it supports Intel Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Haswell Refresh K-Series (Devil’s Canyon) and the Broadwell K-Series, which will arrive in 2015. This board makes use of a 12 phase power design and has MSI’s Military Class IV components, which are below two large heatsinks that are connected by a heatpipe. There are four memory slots, giving you the ability to install up to 64GB of DDR3 with speeds up to 2666 MHz (OC). Next to the memory slots there are the voltage check points, power on off, reset and OC Genie switches. For storage there are 8 SATA 6GB/s ports. When it comes to expansion you have 3 x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, 3 PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a M.2 PCI-E slot.
The board will also feature MSI’s Audio Boost 2 with Xtreme Audio DAC chipset, which will really improve sound quality. The board will also come with the Killer E2200 LAN chipset and 802.11ac WiFi. Prices are unknown at this point, but we are expecting a price of around $249-299.
One of the more interesting boards in MSI’s Z97 Gaming Lineup is the Z97I Gaming board. This is of course a Mini-ITX motherboard, making it the perfect board for someone building a small-form-factor PC. This board is powered by a 6 phase power design. The power delivery components are cooled by a heatsink and is actually connected to the PCH heatsink by a heatpipe. There are two memory slots allowing you to install up to 32 GB of memory with speeds up to 2666 MHz (OC). The board includes for SATA 6GB/s ports and even has a USB 3.0 header. There is a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot for expansion. I/O ports on the board include 8.1 channel audio, six USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0, 2 eSATA, dual HDMI, DisplayPort, SPDIF, Killer E2200 LAN and 802.11 AC wireless antenna.
The rest of the Z97 Gaming line is made up of more mainstream boards. Starting with the Z97 Gaming 7, it features a 12 phase power design. There are four memory slots supporting 64GB of DDR3 with speeds up to 2666 MHz (OC). You still get the voltage checkpoints next to the memory, but the power, reset and OC Genie buttons have been moved to the bottom of the board. Expansion slots include three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, four PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a M.2 slot. For storage you get 8 SATA 6GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. The board will also include the Audio Boost 2 technology.
Moving down the line we have the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard with an 8 phase power design. Again you have the same four memory slots with support for 64GB of DDR3 with speeds up to 2666 MHz (OC). Expansion slots include three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, four PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a M.2 slot. For storage there are six SATA 6GB/s ports and a USB 3.0 header. The voltage checkpoints, power, reset and OC Genie buttons have been removed. The Audio Boost 2 technology is included with this board.
The last two boards are the Z97 Gaming 3 and H97 Gaming 3. The only real difference between these boards is one of based off the Z97 chipset and the other is based off the H97 chipset. These boards will also have a 6 phase power design and four memory slots that support up to 64GB of DDR3 with speeds up to 2666 MHz (OC). For storage you have four SATA 6GB/s ports. Expansion includes two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, three legacy PCI slots and a M.2 slot. MSI’s Military Class IV components and Audio Boost 2 technology will be featured on both boards.
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