MSI Z270 KRAIT GAMING Motherboard Review

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We carry on our benchmarks of Kabylake, with a review of the MSI Z270 KRAIT GAMING Motherboard. KRAIT made its appearance back on Intel Z97, and has spread across chipsets, and even made its debut on the AMD platform. The KRAIT series has been through a lot of cosmetic changes,  but as always has a black and white DNA. That’s carried over on Z270, but has evolved with a new look once again.

Regarding features, it ticks many boxes with dual M.2 with optane support, SLI + Crossfire ready, USB 3.1 (gen2) A + C,  DDR4-3866+(OC), Audio Boost 4, mystic lighting, VR-ready and much more

Pricing on the day of review is £151.99 , but is likely to fluctuate. Right now, it’s one of the better-priced boards, for its feature set.

Z270 KRAIT GAMING Features and Specs

  • Supports 7th / 6th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1151 socket
  • Supports DDR4-3866+(OC) Memory
  • DDR4 Boost with Steel Armor: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
  • VR Ready and VR Boost: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness
  • Lightning Fast Game experience: Twin Turbo M.2 with Steel Armor. Intel Optane Memory Ready, Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
  • Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality for the most immersive gaming experience
  • GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel® : The best online gaming experience with lowest latency and bandwidth management
  • Military Class 5, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high quality components for best protection and efficiency
  • MULTI-GPU: With Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire
  • Mystic Light Sync: Synchronize other RGB solutions with your gaming rig and control all LEDs in one click
  • In-Game Weapons: Game Boost, GAMING Hotkey, X-Boost, Xsplit Gamecaster
  • EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning BIOS with high resolution scalable font, favorites and search function
  • GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game and motherboard testing by eSports players

See more? Courtesy of MSI

[nextpage title=”Packaging & Accessories”]

Krait is very different to the other products from MSI, and has its own unique packaging too.  The box features a scale-like design with a claw mark; this is also a big part of the central design on the board. Information is clearly listed on the backside, and easy to digest.

In the box, the bundle is on the thin side. With the following included

  • 4x SATA cables
  • Sticker Kit
  • SLI bridge
  • Driver + Manuals
  • Generic information
  • Thank you note

As said earlier, the pricing is better than the competition, but they offer more.

[nextpage title=”First Look”]

We start our tour with a complete top down view, to absorb what’s on offer. As I said in past reviews, I thought Z170 was the turning point from plain and straightforward boards, to something much more appealing to the consumer. The Z170 range as a whole, from MSI, was beautifully executed and well designed.

The new Z270 products are really enticing. MSI have really polished and tuned their models. Focusing on the KRAIT, it’s very much a love or hate product. The black and white appeal to me massively, but I’m not just keen on that claw strike mark in the center. Dare I say..it’s almost childish. That aside the new shrouding around the I/O is great , and everything else has been done right. The heatsink isn’t overly aggressive, and apart from the claw, the new board is much more sophisticated and clean.

The print on the PCB, matches the heatsinks extremely well, not that many will see it, but I’m pleased to see the white element on the reverse side too.

The heatsinks over the Intel Z270, is a clean and minimal black addition.

I do approve of the direction MSI has taken with the Z270, it will surely please many

[PCI-E Setup]

Perhaps not immediately apparent, due to the colors but MSI have implemented on the slots, but the board does boast their Steel Armor. This is a nice feature to see, especially with the current size and weight, of the more expensive graphics cards on the market. Its a tried + tested feature and not a gimmick.

• Supports 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
• Supports 3-Way AMD® CrossFireTechnology

• 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16/x0/x4, x8/x8/x4 modes)
• 3 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots

[Audio]

Realtek® ALC1220 Codec
– 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio

[Storage Options]

Remember when SATA Express was set to be the next big thing? No… Many won’t, as it was dead before it hit the ground and it’s sat idle since on lots of Z170 products.

MSI have gone for an all SATA approach, avoiding SATA Express. Offering 6x SATA III 6gbps ports in total. Sadly we see the same trait seen on other KRAIT products from the past, with a mix of vertical and horizontal ports. While trivial it does make routing cable more difficult

 

RAID

• Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10 for SATA storage devices
• Supports RAID 0 and RAID 1 for M.2 storage devices*

[M.2 / U.2]

M.2 took some time to filter into the market, and pricing to adjust accordingly. Now it’s become a mainstream product, and the desire to use more was apparent. Intel noted this and now offer the ability to run 2x products on a single board this is further enhanced with Intel optane tech. Which you can read about 

Unlike some Z270 products, you can install 2280 products in both slots on the Z270 KRAIT

[Fan Locations]

A total of 6 headers for system or CPU fans

1. Near DDR4 Banks

2+ 3. Above 24 pin POWER

4 . Above PCIe Slots

5 + 6.  Base & bottom right of board

[Other ports/ Features]

Along the motherboard base, you’ll find plenty of headers and the actual placement of everything is neat and well thought out.

– 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
– 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
– 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
– 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)
– 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
– 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
– 1 x 4-pin water pump fan connector
– 4 x 4-pin system fan connectors
– 1 x Front panel audio connector
– 2 x Front panel connectors
– 1 x RGB LED connector
– 1 x TPM module connector
– 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
– 1 x Serial port connector
– 1 x Parallel port connector
– 1 x Clear CMOS jumper

Finishing up our tour of the board, looking at the I/O which consists of:

  • – 1 x PS/2 mouse & keyboard combo port
  • – 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • – 1 x DVI-D port
  • – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port
  • – 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
  • – 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports
  • – 1 x HDMI™ port
  • – 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
  • – 6 x audio jacks

Hardly any notable difference between the KRAIT and more expensive model from ASUS

Despite benching with the exact same kit of RAM, results on Z270 are better. The KRAIT delivered great scores

[GAMING]

Armed with a Nvidia GTX 1080, how do the new Kaby processors affect FPS?

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