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Motherboards Reviews

Z97 chipset based motherboards have begun to saturate the market as of late, and we’re here to bring you another offering from MSI. We’ve already had a look at MSI’s upper-end Z97 MPower Max AC and Z97 XPower AC, so this time around we’ll explore one of their new Gaming series motherboards in the form of the Z97M. This mATX offering aims to pack a powerful punch and a plethora of features, all in a small form factor size. There is little doubt the popularity of small form factor systems has exploded over the past few years, and MSI is doing their part to give those customers a Z97 offering with little to be compromised because of its size. So, how did MSI do this time around? Let’s dive in and find out!

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With the release of Intel’s Z97 chipset, we have seen motherboards of nearly all flavors get reviewed here. From budget conscious boards all the way up to the ‘I am made for extreme overclocking as a primary function’ type boards. Today, we get to look at MSI’s flagship motherboard, the Z97 XPower AC. This board is a step above the previously reviewed MPower MAX AC in both physical size (it’s E-ATX) and by way of additional features and accessories. Being their flagship motherboard, overclocking should not be a problem even under extreme conditions such as LN2. According to MSI, this board broke some world records while using LN2 cooling… Exciting! Let’s get down to business…

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Today brings another offering boasting Intel’s new Z97 chipset. This new series of motherboards brings compatibility with future Broadwell CPUs, M.2 SSDs, and SATA Express, along with other smaller changes. ASRock has released multiple boards on the Z97 chipset from their OC, Extreme, and Fatal1ty lines. This motherboard, as you can guess, is part of the Extreme series. Even though it isn’t part of the OC series this board has plenty of overclocking features, but it targets the more “average” user.

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Today we will be looking at BIOSTAR’s first Z97 chipset based offering, their Hi-Fi Z97WE board. If you remember, last year we reviewed the Hi-Fi Z87X 3D. This board appears to fall into the same budget board category boasting a lot of audio features. Let’s take a look at see how this board shakes out!

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Unlike previous platform releases where EVGA was a bit slow to market, they were quick on the trigger with their Z97 chipset based motherboard offerings. As we saw with EVGA’s Z87 motherboards, we again have the Classified, FTW, and Stinger models to fill out their Z97 lineup. Today, we’ll take a look at EVGA’s flagship Z97 Classified. When EVGA slaps the Classified name on one of their products, you can be sure it’s loaded with enthusiast level features that the overclocking and gaming crowds look for. So, let’s run the EVGA Z97 Classified through our review process and see if it performs at a level worthy of the Classified name!

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ASUS has long since dispelled the myth that smaller form factor motherboards can’t be powerhouse performers. You need look no further than the Z87 based Maximus VI GENE and Maximus VI Impact to prove that point. Today, we’re moving onto the next generation Intel Z97 chipset and the ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus VII GENE. This mATX form factor motherboard actually sits atop the initial ASUS Z97 ROG offerings, or at least until the Maximus VII Formula is released later in the year. For this release, ASUS has implemented quite a few new features on both the hardware and software side when compared to earlier versions. So, let’s dive in and see if ASUS managed to provide another enthusiast level motherboard worthy of the ROG name, all wrapped up in a mATX form factor.

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With the release of a new chipset, Intel’s Z97 this time around, board partners have their inevitable releases to go along with it. At a high-level, the big changes are the future Haswell refresh and Broadwell support and new, faster, storage abilities. We’ve had a review published already with a bit more detail on the chipset. MSI is one of those partners and has released a series of Z97 based boards from their Gamer Series to the Overclock Series. Today, we are lucky enough to take a look at a board from the Overclock Series, the MSI Z97 MPwer MAX AC. The board is geared towards overclocking, but has plenty of other features that should make it a well-rounded offering.

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ASUS has enjoyed a loyal following for their TUF Sabertooth line of motherboards over the years, whether that be an Intel or AMD based platform. Given that group of loyal followers, it makes perfect sense to carry the TUF Sabertooth motherboards into the Z97 platform as well. ASUS rolled out a Mark I and Mark II version of the TUF Sabertooth Z97; and today, we’ll be looking at the Mark I iteration. While there may not be an enormous amount of change between the Z97 and Z87 chipsets, that didn’t stop ASUS from adding lots of new features to the TUF Sabertooth Z97 motherboards that accompany the chipset update. The design philosophy of this motherboard can be broken down into three main groups – Ultimate Cooling, Tested Reliability, and a Durable Design. So, let’s get started and see if the TUF Sabertooth Z97 Mark I can meet that criteria!

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We have definitely reviewed our fair share of socket FM2+ motherboards over the past few months, especially since AMD’s recent release of the Kaveri APU family. Today, MSI checks in with their latest socket FM2+ A88X chipset motherboard – The A88X-G45 Gaming. MSI has the gaming crowd in its cross hairs with the release of this motherboard, and first impressions show a fully loaded offering with many unique enhancements. As you’ll see during the review, the board looks absolutely stunning and has many of the high level features gamers and PC enthusiasts look for. Looks and features only tell part of the story though, so let’s get the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming motherboard on our workbench and find out how it performs.

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Small form factor (SFF) gaming PCs have exploded in popularity recently. Valve has even released their own SteamOS that turns PCs into console-esque gaming machines, which has prompted a rise of the Steam Machine or Steam Box from many manufacturers in the pre-built PC business. MSI has a couple of products that are designed specifically to fit into the SFF gaming PC segment, the Z87I GAMING AC motherboard and the GTX 760 GAMING ITX graphics card. They look to be a great core for a DIY Steam Machine or even just an everyday SFF PC.

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