Today we see one of the MSI Mini-ITX motherboards, Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC. Pro Carbon AC Gaming supports the 8th Intel Core Coffee Lake processor with DDR4 memory support to DDR4-4600. This board includes the latest Realtek audio codecs, along with Nahimic 2+, Intel-based LAN and wireless audio processing, USB 3.1 ports on the back, and also a single M.2 drive. RGB is also abundant, all in Mini-ITX packages.
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Review of MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC
The Mini-ITX space of the Z370 platform generally attracts users who want a strong PC in a small package. Generally this includes those who also want to take advantage of some Z-exclusive features, if not, there are H-series boards in this form factor which are usually cheaper and more cost effective. Users can build high-performance machines on this platform but with fewer cores and higher frequencies.
With board partners always keeping their ears on the track, all of the board's main partners have at least one Mini-ITX offer. Buyers are always looking for a combination of performance, appearance and feature set to help choose the right board for their needs. The MSI Z370I Cabon AC Gaming Pro will support the flagship i7-8700K processor (with overclocking), has a single M.2 slot, Wi-Fi, RGB LED, all in a 6 inch square package.
Performance wise, the MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC performs well in our testing suite, usually landing on a good average of the boards we have tested. The use of idle power is average while load testing shows the board uses a few more watts than the other Z370 boards tested. Boot time is also fast with Pro Carbon AC Gaming POSTing the 2nd fastest time. Overall, no one came out of line, including the results of the game, with performance testing.
Our overclocking results show that the small board has no problem reaching 5.1 GHz, where most of the other boards are seeded. We did need to raise the default power limit a little earlier (4.5 GHz), but that was the equivalent for the course. Like most overclocking efforts on this platform, we are limited by cooling and not by the board. Delidding will drop temps on this sample and allow push to 5.2 GHz and the board doesn't mind a little.
Pro Carbon AC Gaming has a total of four SATA ports together with one M.2 slot. The four SATA ports support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 and do not share ports / bandwidth when M.2 devices are being used. The M.2 slot supports up to 2280 size modules and supports SATA and PCIe-based devices.
The board has one full-length PCIe slot and thus does not support SLI or Crossfire configurations (no details on the bifurcation path). Audio tasks are handled by the latest Realtek ALC1220 codec along with MSI supporting hardware in Chemi-Con audio capacitors and a special built-in headphone amplifier that can support up to 600Ω cans.
The back panel of the IO is empty of most colors that are not black or red that match the MSI Gaming theme but not the least to visually separate the ports. That said, we can see the old PS / 2 port for mouse and keyboard, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (red under the NIC), and two USB 3.1 ports (Type-A and Type-C). This board includes HDMI (1.4) and DisplayPort (1.2) connectivity that is used for integrated GPUs in the Coffe Lake CPU. Next, we can see a simple CMOS reset button, a Wi-Fi stack, and a 5-jack audio stack and SPDIF connection. Overall, this covers the whole well and must have many ports for most users.
Price for MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC comes in for $ 168 (Amazon). The price point places it well among other Mini-ITX sized boards. The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-I Gaming costs $ 179 (Newegg), ASRock Fatality Z370 Gaming-ITX / ac $ 180, SuperO C7Z370-CG-IW at $ 186, and WiFi GIGABYTE Z370N for $ 150. The price point puts it in the middle Other Mini-ITX size cousins and in the end, choosing the appropriate board will go down to features, appearance, and cost, with little difference (number of M.2 slots, USB support, etc.) between them.
MSI Z370 Strategy
MSI brings a total of 13 motherboards to the table ranging from Mini-ITX to ATX and prices start from around $ 110 and end more than $ 200. MSI is more than likely to have a board for everyone here because they have Enthusiast, Performance and Arsenal Gaming The line is well represented here along with several options in the Pro Series. The highlight of all of them is the Godlike Gaming Z370 which is also a limited run board (no price because it is not found online) but there are many boards under it in the stack of products that have the right features, appearance and price tag for various users.