MSI Z97 Gaming 9 Motherboard Review
If the current financial climate is causing motherboard manufacturers to have to cram still more features onto their products, even the lower models in their range, as seems to be the case, then that can only be a good thing for the consumer. We all like to get more bang for our buck, more steel for our Stirling, more eurekas for our Euro, and with the current crop you're getting so much for so very little.
The MSI Gaming 5 is one such motherboard, providing everything anyone could realistically need. Which does leave the Gaming 9 somewhat like a fish out of water. It's like a slightly refined version of a product we already loved. Sure there are some audio improvements, and very minor aesthetic differences, as well as changes to the IO section. But very little to justify a near doubling of the price when looking at performance results alone. It's not that the Gaming 9 isn't great, it certainly its just not a board for you if youre on a tight budget and looking to squeeze every ounce of performance out of your system and care about nothing but.
The days when the differences between motherboards were night and day, even ones based upon the same chipset, seem to be long gone. The consistency of Intel boards started with the Z77 chipsets and has only been refined and honed over the generations until we're left with a suite of products which are an absolute boon to the end user. You really can buy largely based upon looks, or price, or feature set, without worrying that you're going to end up with a EVGA P67 FTW in a world of Sabertooth's. Or, in this case, MSI Gamings. We do think its a very brave move for MSI to enter into the higher end of the market when it comes to motherboards and for a first attempt they have done very well. For this price it did need a little bit more polish though, make you feel a little bit more special just because you own one.
MSI's Gaming range has completely transformed the company from a supplier of good mid-range boards with little to separate them, into a manufacturer of consistently brilliant ones that give your man-dangle something to get excited about. If we have one critique of the Gaming 9 AC, it's that it isn't twice as good as the Gaming 5. Sure price and value don't follow such a linear path (a Mini and a Rolls Royce are both cars after all) but when the Gaming 5 offers so very much you really have to want the extra bells and whistles available on the Gaming 9 to justify the purchase or as we have want the perfect dual card spacing and love the little bits of armour around the audio and I/O.