Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

Announcement Intel LGA 1151, which presented the new processors, chipsets and motherboards whole deposit. After studying the results of the testing of new products, some users become thoughtful: what’s new in principle? Memory? Yes, certainly, but we have to DDR3 and performance enough. Number of cores and threads? This figure has not changed at all. Can crackdown is now such that covers all the flaws? No, and here everything is still. New interfaces? But they are not too relevant as the devices are expensive. That’s why some motherboard manufacturers continue to release models have proven platformLGA 1150.

Under the CPU socket is now a lot of options (as mainboards and CPUs), so everyone can choose themselves what they need.The thing is that for the new platform Intel Skylake is presented only high-end solutions, and even the “budget set” of Intel Core i5-6600K with an average card on the chipset Intel Z170 can get a pretty penny. It also requires the type of memory DDR4.Perhaps, on the background of the CPU, its price may seem small, but for the dual-channel mode should be two modules, and the total cost of all the components out rather big amount. But what about for the future? No, these games with manufacturers play not necessary. There is only the present and what is actual today. Recently, we have said that will Broadwell, when we switched to Haswell. And in the end result?

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

Manufacturers of motherboards also have analyzed the situation and introduced new versions of its models on chipset Intel Z97.They upgraded their controllers, USB 3.1, support for the benefit of M.2 and SATA Express has been implemented. By the way, too, Z170 chipset does not support USB 3.1, and nothing the developers to somehow get out.

That is why even before the announcement of the new platform, MSI has made ​​a gift to the followers of the previous generation, announcing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6. Judging by the title and the index, it must be located in the middle between the fifth and seventh versions. Let’s see what happened in reality.

Packaging equipment

The box is made of medium size in the usual MSI products modern style Series Gaming.

Dimensions of the package is only slightly superior to the board itself primarily in the thickness because it is necessary to provide a place for the delivery kit.

On the front side is the manufacturer’s logo. To the right there is a group of icons indicating the supported technologies and solutions.

It may be noted interface support USB 3.1, technology Audio Boost, the availability of the network controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 chipset and the Intel Z97.

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

Otherwise, all familiar – image of a dragon, a full model name and logo line Gaming. General information about the product is traditionally presented on the reverse side.

Of interesting mention here that this is the first board Series Gaming-enabled interface USB 3.1 Type-C, a small table with the specification of the product and a schematic representation of the back panel.

In the middle there are three inserts with a description of the technical solutions. The first is devoted to the Audio Boost 2 – a whole range of solutions aimed at improving the sound codec applied. Among them: a special electrolytic musical capacitors, line insulation codec PCB, high-quality operational amplifiers, gold-plated connectors type minijack, feature Direct Audio Power, which allows you to power the audio codec directly from the connector Molex power supply, as well as the screen-cap that covers chip codec.

Next insert talks about the benefits of the network controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 and how it’s great for games.Hereinafter referred to another technology – USB Audio Power. Its essence is to ensure stability of supply on the bus USB (honest 5). Here are graphs which demonstrate the characteristics of high-speed interfaces. Let us not forget that we are talking about the theoretical capacity, but in practice it all depends on the specific device.

Next, we report the support of multi-graphics technology. On this board, as in most others, based on chipset Intel Z97, you can use as a mode SLI, and CrossFire. Little attention has been paid and proprietary utilities Gaming APP, which is a slight touch of a button allows you to overclock the system and thus increase productivity in applications (by the way, not only the game). And at the end is information that this model comes with a free six-month subscription to the program XSplit Gamecaster V2.

Top special black cardboard tray and anti-static bag is the motherboard itself.

Under it are supplied, which at first glance does not seem very rich.

Among the information carriers can be found the following:

  • User Guide (Manual);
  • Quick Installation Guide (Installation Guide);
  • Set of stickers for labeling cables;
  • The brochure product catalog Series Gaming;
  • Hanger, a notice on the door;
  • DVD with drivers and software for different operating systems;
  • Large metal sticker on the casing with the logo MSI Gaming.

These are the accessories are supplied.

  • Two cables SATA 6Gb / s;
  • A flexible bridge SLI;
  • Adapter for power supply Direct Audio Power;
  • Connector Kit (Q-Connector);
  • The plug on the rear panel.

Package could be called average, if not the number of cables SATA. Only two pieces by modern standards is not enough. For example, I need at least four to connect two hard drives, one SSD drive and one DVD.

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

The design and features of the board

Before us is a full-size motherboard ATX form factor with dimensions of 205 x 244 mm. This is a classic format with nine holes for mounting to the body.

In appearance very similar to the fee model MSI Z97A Gaming 5. Registration can be called a standard Series Gaming: a printed circuit board with a black matte finish, black connectors and a little red on the radiators.

On the reverse side components substantially not only in the place where the border audio codec, several LEDs can be seen that this translucent strip thickness of about 1 mm.

Workmanship is traditionally high. Pike accurate, there is no excess flux. Regarding the number of metallization layers, the four of them. This is a very modest figure for the average card, but the manufacturer is at hand, because all managed to breed successfully.

My first impression of MSI Z97A Gaming 6 – a good location of expansion slots.

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

Power is supplied to the motherboard through a primary and secondary scheme ATX connector 24 +8.

To install modules DDR3 memory has four black connector.

The manufacturer declares support modes DDR3 1066, 1333, 1600 (1866, 2133, 2400, 2600, 2666, 2800, 2933, 3000, 3100, 3200, 3300 (overclocking)) MHz with a nominal voltage of 1.5 V, which can be increased. According to the specification maximum memory capacity can reach 32 GB. Of course, there is support for technology XMP, which allows you to overclock the memory by pressing one button.

Power processor is configured for vosmifaznoy scheme.

As the main PWM controller chip is used herein uPI uP1649Q Semiconductor, which can only provide four phases. Consequently, the total number obtained by doubling.

Solid capacitors, inductors Super Ferrite and type transistors Low Rds (on).

Nearby you can see the double drivers uPI Semiconductor uP1951P.

The transistors are covered with two radiators. Both are made of an aluminum alloy and the composite structure is used. One part of them is painted black and the other red.

The area of ​​heat dissipation in these small, since there are practically no ribs. Furthermore, the heat sink plate is adhered to the heat spreader body, which also improves heat dissipation. Radiators are independent from each other and not connected to a heat pipe. As the thermal interface applied black termorezinka about 1 mm thick.

Both heatsink mounted by means of two spring-loaded bolts from the back side. With the end of each can be found the silver dragon image.

Another radiator removes heat from the chipset. It is also made of aluminum alloy and painted black. Only on the sides slants present in the red paint.

On top is a decorative plate with the logo of the series Gaming. Below silver letters designate the manufacturer’s logo. Ribs on this radiator at all.

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

In addition there is a separate plate that is in direct contact with the crystal chipset. It is also glued to the body and to be sure the radiator is fastened with two screws. It is possible to detect a protective frame made of soft porous material and the thermal interface, which appears as a gray solid. In order to avoid distortions on the radiator there are additional blocks of soft material.Fixing is effected from the back side by means of two spring-loaded screws.

By hiding the radiator chipset Intel Z97.

The card offers a newfangled interface M.2. It supports both modes, namely M.2 SATA (6 Gb / s) and M.2 PCI-e (10 Gbit / s). In the first case, the SATA ports 5 and 6 are unavailable. In addition, there should be support NVMe, but the manufacturer of this says nothing.

The same 10 Gb / s provides an interface SATA Express. It is combined with a conventional SATA 6Gb / s and is implemented using the built-in controller chip. In the neighborhood you can find two SATA 6 Gb / s.

In the lower right corner there is a connector for connecting the body of the fan, BIOS chip and connector JSPI1 for programming.

Nearby are two pads to connect four devices USB 2.0.

By the way, on the back panel there are two connectors USB 2.0. There you can find two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 3.1 Type-C.First implemented by the chipset, but the other is represented by the controller ASMedia ASM1142.

Once the board has two pads USB 3.0, which are located near the power connector.

And at the bottom of the board there are two connectors for buttons and indicators of the housing.

Next to them are two seven-segment LED display for POST-codes loaded and initialized. To the left is a connector for the TPM, block the COM port and a connector for connecting an external power supply Direct Audio Power.

Motherboard received seven expansion slots, four PCI-e x1 and three PCI-e x16.

From multi-graphics technology supports both SLI, and CrossFire. The upper and the middle slot PCI-e x16 bisect sixteen lines PCI-e of the third generation, which enables the processor. The bottom gets only four lines of type from the Gen2 chipset, which has allocated for PCI-e x1.

In the lower left corner is the audio codec.

By tradition, it is separated by a special strip without metallization layers. On the reverse side it is highlighted by means of red LEDs.

Here you can see two operational amplifiers Texas Instruments OPA1652, special audiokondensatory, which should improve the sound quality, as well as function switch Direct Audio Power. The latter allows you to connect external power to the codec through a separate connector.

As an audio codec used chip Realtek ALC1150.

It is closed decorative cover, which is secured by two screws on the back side.

And in the corner of the indicator is the number of metallization layers. You can see for themselves that they are four.

Next to the audio codec wired I / O controller and system monitoring Nuvoton NCT6792D.

Behind the rear panel connectors soldered chip Gigabit Ethernet controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205.

This chip is often used on motherboards designed for gamers. Yes, personally I convinced that the option Ping is reduced in some applications, but to talk about improving the quality of the connection, I would not. You can only slightly improve already good channel by prioritizing traffic services and QoS.

In the upper right corner you can find the contact pads to measure the voltage on the system components.

The rear panel has the following interfaces.

  • A PS / 2 connector for keyboard and mouse;
  • Two slots USB 2.0;
  • Two slots USB 3.0;
  • One connector USB 3.1 Type-C;
  • A video output HDMI;
  • A video output DVI-D;
  • A video output D-Sub;
  • One Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 connector;
  • Six audio jacks type minijack;
  • One optical connector S / PDIF Out.

BIOS features

We have repeatedly could see the motherboard BIOS MSI Series Gaming, and here, in fact, nothing new. Enough to see the attached video to understand this.

Menu is still nicely decorated, comfortable and intuitive.

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6

Integrated sound

The audio codec is presented chip Realtek ALC1150. Listening was carried out with the help of headphones Sennheiser HD201, Zalman ZM-RS6F and acoustics Microlab PRO 1.

Compared to other motherboards sound somehow especially not manifest itself. But the connection of an external power supply Direct Audio Power not greatly alter the picture. It seemed to me that this is an increase in volume at the front audio panel connector, which connects through the headphone. As for sound quality, it is clean and without any distortion, but not enough to surround in movies and games.


Overall, the MSI a balanced model of the middle class, where all modern interfaces. It should replace the predecessor of MSI Z97 Gaming 5, as the main difference lies in the controller, USB 3.1, and it’s just a replacement of one chip other new connectors and Cable. So if you wanted to buy a motherboard MSI Z97 Gaming 5, it makes sense to wait for a new version which will support this interface.

As for overclocking, the platform Intel LGA 1150, he is more dependent on the processor and memory, rather than on the motherboard. Therefore, in the case of MSI Z97A Gaming 6 we see the same results that repeatedly received earlier. Among other advantages, we note good location of expansion slots: one slot PCI-e x16 does not interfere with the installation of a large cooler; It is possible to install two video cards with trehslotovoy cooling system. However, such models have already disappeared from view, but who knows, maybe they would meet us in the future.

Review and testing the motherboard MSI Z97A Gaming 6 updated: September 18, 2015 author: Jonathan Davis