Conclusion: So, now that we have seen what this board is capable of, is it going to be worth its £112 price tag? Does it offer the performance of the full size motherboards? Can it out-perform the larger boards? Well, let’s get to the evaluation then.
MSI Z87I Gaming AC (LGA 1150) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review
7 March 2014
Conclusion: MSI’s Z87I Gaming AC mini-ITX motherboard is an interesting proposal. What sets it apart from other mini-ITX Z87 motherboards on the market is the extensive connectivity options – Gigabit Killer NIC ethernet, 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel WiDi certainly is more than you’d get from similarly priced rival products. Those things aside this motherboard is pretty similar to every other Z87 mini-ITX motherboard with identical, SATA, USB, RAM and PCIe configurations.
Pros: Amazing connectivity options (WiDi, AC WiFi, BT 4.0, Gigabit Ethernet, eSATA…), Attractive design, Competitive pricing, Lower power consumption than rivals
Cons: Confused and impractical layout in places, Low resolution BIOS compared to rivals
Summary: I was excited at the prospect of a real competitor to ASUS’ mini-ITX offerings which so far have been absolutely stellar. While MSI had some good ideas here I think the execution of those ideas fell a bit short. The system was of course stable, but it wasn’t exactly drama free. I had tons of issues on the networking front.
Summary: With gigantic towers going the way of the dinosaur and power coming in smaller and smaller configurations mini-ITX gaming oriented motherboards are more attractive than ever before. We put the Z87I GAMING AC to the test and find out if good things come in small packages or big headaches do.
Summary: At a price point of $199.99, the MSI Z87I Gaming AC is in the Mainstream Gaming category of Intel Z87 motherboard systems.
Benchmarks for the MSI Z87I Gaming AC board showed that the board performed at a high level. The built in SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 controllers were in line with what would be expected, and the embedded NIC's performance was excellent.
Summary: Sickening... that's the key word in this review. It is sickening how much performance and features you can squeeze out of something this small, I love this! You could build an intensely small PC based on a small ITX chassis and then gain the major performance of the Core i7 4770K (or any other 4th Generation Intel Core processor). Then you can tweak it as well as any enthusiast class motherboard.
Conclusion: Making small motherboards is almost becoming an art form – the manufacturers have to ensure that in this small form factor they offer enough functionality to remain competitive, but there is an upper limit to pricing which users will find ‘reasonable’ when deciding to choose which motherboard is worth purchasing. MSI have gone down the network connectivity route with the Z87I, featuring dual Realtek NICs and a 2.4 GHz N-2230 802.11n WiFi solution.
Summary: Blimey! How can something so small harness so much powah! Incredible. Seriously guys, every little aspect of the Z87I from MSI has been done right. The power consumption is at an all-time low, it has all the features you wish for, including a wide array of display connectivity, two Gigabit LAN jacks and then even WIFI and WIDI. Combined with the 4 SATA 6Gbps ports we can hardly understand that a 17x17cm board can be this powerful and feature rich.
Excerpt: When I opened up the latest package from MSI and found myself staring at a new ITX based motherboard, I instantly found myself filled with joy. Thinking about it for a minute, though, I realized as much as I love the ITX form factor, I've never personally used it myself. It feels like a big part of that, though, is due to my very slow rebuild cycle when it comes to my own computer.
Summary: In the scheme of things, mini ITX systems are still a niche market. However it is a market that is gaining a lot of attention because of products like the MSi Z87i Gaming AC. Offering the same full size features in a smaller package opens doors to system configurations that have previously been reserved for the most imaginative of dreamers. Dream no more. You can now build it.
Pros: Features, Wireless AC, CPU and Memory Support, Overclocking, Design, Style, Quality, Warranty, Price
Cons: Connection layout may be an issue is some cases.