Msi Z370 SLI PLUS Motherboard Review
Ultimate Powerhouse for i9-9900k
- Premium quality build quality in a mid-range gaming motherboard
- Great overclocking capability
- 2-way Nvidia SLI support and 3 way AMD Crossfire support
- User-friendly BIOS makes it easy to navigate.
- The price tag is debatable.
Chipset: Z370 | Socket: 1151 | RAM: 64GB DDR4 4000+(OC) | Display: HDMI, DVI | Form Factor: ATX | Audio: 7.1 channels HD Audio | S/PDIF Output: Yes
VERDICT:With premium price comes the premium features and performance. Msi Z370 Sli Plus is a mid-range motherboard that has tackled the high-end motherboards in features. Overall, it's a great motherboard with minimal objections. the main concern for many people would be its price. Other than those gamers as well as content writers can consider this motherboard
MSI is prominent for its glorious Red Dragon as they have been providing gamers with tons of gaming equipment for a very long time. Z370 chipset from Intel was launched back in Q4’17(the fourth quarter of 2017). Z370 chipset is a successor to Z270 which supported 6th gen (Skylake) and 7th gen (Kaby Lake) processors while Z370 was manufactured for 8th gen (Coffee Lake) and 9th gen(Ice Lake) processors. 8th and 9th gen processors only support 300 series chipset.
Let’s talk about the motherboard itself, The MSI Z370 SLI plus supports LGA 1151 socket and assists processors of the 8th gen and 9th gen along with some Celeron processors. I highly doubt that someone is going to use Z370 motherboards for Celeron processors. There is strangely no support for 7th gen and 6th processors as they also support 1151 socket. There are a lot of variants available so you have to pick what you think is the best and suitable one for you.
Specifications and Support
There’s a long list of specifications for MSI Z370 SLI PLUS. Let us start with the specifications of the chipset.
As the name suggests, Intel’s not so old Z370 chipset has been used so 8th gen and 9th processors along with other Celeron processors can only be used. Although MSI Z370 SLI Plus has LGA 1151 socket still, unfortunately, there is no support for 6th gen and 7th processors. We can observe I/O cover with a black color finish that looks fantastic.
Msi Z370 SLI PLUS offers 3 PCI EXPRESS 3.0 x16 slots for SLI or 3-way AMD Crossfire. Two of them are made of steel and surely give enough base to hold heavy Graphic cards like ASUS Rogue and Zotac Amp Xtreme Edition. There will be no bend or flex thanks to the steel made PCI express 3.0 x16 slots.
As for the onboard graphics, Msi Z370 SLI PLUS has HDMI 1.4 that supports the 4k resolution but only at 24hz. When switching it to 1080p it can deliver solid 60 fps. These features are only supported on Core-i series processor or other supported processors used with MSI Z370 SLI Plus but the built-in display cannot be used with a processor with Suffix of ‘F’ like 9700kf and 9600kf.
In the audio department, MSI Z370 SLI plus has Realtek® ALC1220 chipset in it. Realtek® ALC1220 supports 7.1 surround and gives excellent sound quality. Some people may still get external sound cards but in my opinion, there is no need for that. The built-in audio card should be enough for most of the guys. SMI Z370 SLI plus also has support for S/PDIF that provides a good option for home theatres and DTS sound. Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN controller has been used in MSI Z370 SLI PLUS that should give you about 125 megabytes/second transfer rate. If u have internet connection faster than this, you may have to buy an external adapter.
In terms of storage support, MSI Z370 SLI PLUS gives 6 x 6gbps SATA ports. They can operate on a maximum of 750 megabytes per second. For m.2 storage, MSI Z370 SLI PLUS offers 2 slots. each one of them running at PCIe x4 meaning they have a bandwidth of 3.94 gigabytes per second. That should be more than enough for all Non-volatile Memory Express’s (nvmes) out there in the market.
It should be noted that supported m.2 slots are for Key M nvmes. Two m.2 slots show a bit of variation. As slot 1 supports 2242/ 2260 /2280/ 22110 storage devices while slot 2 supports 2242/ 2260 /2280 storage devices.2242 is the dimension of the device as first two digits show width in millimeters and next two tells us about the length in millimeters. So 2260 m.2 SSD means 22 mm wide and 60 mm in length. Both m.2 slots have support for Intel® Optane™ Memory. Msi’s exclusive Turbo U.2 host card can also be used on m.2 slots. It is not included in the package so you have to buy it separately.
Performance and VRM
When talking about performance, the first thing that matters most to the gamers is the capability to overclock your processor. Generally, overclocking depends on the Voltage Regulator Module or VRM. VRMs are like mini power supplies integrated into the motherboard. Rams also need VRMs but they do not need enough power and most people do not overclock their rams so we will just focus on the processors powering VRMs.
MSI Z370 SLI PLUS offers 8+2 power phases for the processor. Sometimes quantity doesn’t matter if the quality is bad. More phases do not always mean better and stable voltages for CPU. In the end, the quality of capacitors and chokes matter a lot. Computers in early 2000 used to crash a lot due to bad quality VRMs but with a most premium motherboard these days that is not the case.
In short, MSI Z370 SLI PLUS provides an excellent overclocking capability due to its excellent quality 8 +2 power phases for the processor. Given that you have good quality CPU cooler your overclocking should run stable.
PC enthusiasts love to overclock RAM to gain maximum performance advantages. Although, your ram can only jump few megahertz (unless you are using some heavy cooling methods). Still, gamers try to play with ram overclocking to achieve extra frames. By default, MSI Z370 SLI Plus supports 4000 MHz overclocked RAM at maximum. You can either choose default XMP given by MSI that has pre-set voltages and frequencies or you can select your own frequency and voltages for overclocking. MSI Z370 SLI PLUS with DDR4 boost provides magnificent overclocking stability and performance by giving processor more accurate signals instead of loose signals.
Audio Boost 4 with the help of good quality amplifier, provides great and loud sound quality. 7.1 surround is more than enough and as I have mentioned earlier there is no need for external sound cards.
MSI Mystic Light and Synchronization
RGB lovers have something to cheer about with MSI Mystic Light. MSI Z370 SLI PLUS has RGB lightning that can be seen pretty much clear on chipset heatsink and on the thin strip in the shadow of i/o connector cover. With Mystic Light software, you can synchronize all RGB devices including graphics cards, keyboards, mice and every other chassis peripherals. In my opinion, it makes RGB look even better as all effects are synchronized in rhythm. You can also set it to tell CPU temperatures with different colors at various temperatures. If you don’t like RGB effects you can also turn it off. Another good thing about MSI is that they offer Android and IOS app to control RGB effects and Mystic Light synchronization. So, MSI Z370 SLI plus has support for mystic lightning, in the end, making it the great choice for looks.
MSI Z370 SLI PLUS has one of the most user-friendly bios. There is an EZ Mode and Advance Mode. Ez mode tells you all fundamental readings like Temps, Core Speed, Core Voltages, Storage Information, and Memory Size, etc. Advance setting is for overclocking of ram, processor and some extra advanced settings. This well-balanced BIOS is a big step up game as it makes overclocking easy and fun. If you are not sure about your overclocking I recommend you to use default XMP profiles. These are pre-set settings for overclocking that are most of the time is safe but few processors are bit different than others so stressing your CPU to check its stability is always better.
Surprisingly the BIOS is integrated with a search bar that makes browsing through various stuff pretty easy. Most people spend half of their time in BIOS searching for the specific setting but with search option in BIOS, you can save a lot of time.
Msi Z370 SLI PLUS supports both UEFI and Legacy boot. So, using old windows is not going to be a problem. Majority of the people are going to use Windows 10 anyway so UEFI is a fine option to have.
Another unique feature in the BIOS is the “Secure Erase+” made for SSDs. What it does is that it formats your SSD in a way that it boosts your old SSD performance.
Overall, MSI Z370 SLI PLUS provides premium quality features and performance for a mid-range motherboard. price of 220$ is still arguable as it should be a little cheaper. mystic light and BIOS has every feature to offer. You don’t feel left behind from other motherboards of other brands in features. Still, it is an extraordinary choice for gamers and PC enthusiasts. Implementation of USB 3.1 gen 2, Mystic Light and dual m.2 slots is what makes this motherboard champ. Experience with MSI Z370 SLI PLUS was pretty satisfying so I can easily recommend it to gamers as well as content creators
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Prices taken/valid at the time of review.