Does Skylake Interest You? Here’s a Round-up of Z170 Motherboards
As always, I try and save the best for last. I have to say that it isn’t easy picking a favorite, especially with what’s being offered, but MSI just keeps finding new ways to innovate that also make huge amounts of practical sense. The boards you really want to be following are the Gaming M9 ACK and the XPower Gaming Titanium Edition. The Gaming M9 has a ton of features and it seems that every component has been carefully designed to give a top quality product to consumers. Some of the better features I’m seeing are things like the backside panel, water cooling support for the VRMs and even 11 stages of easy overclock settings depending on how hard you want to push the CPU. These are great but the one thing that really stands out is the MSI Gaming Hotkey bios feature. This will let you make any keyboard fully customized with macros that support any key and can handle up to 8 steps in macro programming. This could be one of the most useful features I’ve seen and it makes so much sense for the motherboard to translate the keystrokes rather than trying to put all that extra programming into the keyboard.
As much as I like the Gaming M9, the XPower Gaming Titanium Edition has not only a unique style, but also a world record. Here’s where we come to another new feature that will be showing up in MSI boards, and that’s the DDR4 Boost technology. Essentially, electromagnetic signals from other components on the board can interfere with the memory signals limiting how well RAM can be overclocked. DDR4 Boost isolates the memory circuitry to help eliminate that distortion. If you’re like me, you probably take these kind of things in with a grain of salt because it’s hard to separate true innovation and marketing jargon. On the other hand, the Titanium Edition managed to set the record for Dual-channel DDR4 overclocking with a 4605 MHz frequency. Sure, that’s not as high as the previous ASRock record, but that record was on a single stick. The fact that MSI managed to grab a Dual-channel record really indicates that DDR4 Boost is a much needed feature for memory overclocking enthusiasts. Outside of that, when is the last, or even the first time you can remember seeing an awesome glittery silver motherboard?
So there are my top picks for boards that I think are worth following. Many of these could easily exceed your budget, but trust me when I say there is a slew of other boards from each manufacturer to choose from. In keeping up with some of these top tier boards, I think you could easily find a brand that appeals to you, then look for the right board that fits your budget. The last thing I want to add is Skylake felt like a release that I was leaning towards, but still on the fence about. What I’m not on the fence about at all are these new Z170 boards. When you combine the performance of Skylake with it’s overclocking potential, and throw in how excellent these boards are with the new features, I feel like Skylake is something you should definitely consider upgrading to, especially if you’re still running an old Sandybridge system. It might not hurt to wait for Zen from AMD, but Skylake is a solid release and the Z170 chipset is certainly worthy of being the next motherboard in your system.