MSI Z97 SLI Krait Motherboard Review
Where you stand on the MSI Z97S Krait SLI Edition depends largely upon your primary usage.
If you're after a motherboard that has to be black and white, then clearly your choices are extremely limited and the Krait fits into that category very nicely as well as performing well. If you're just after an all-rounder with the majority of your usage being "desktop" tasks rather than gaming ones then, again, the MSI Krait is an excellent choice. If, however, you're after a motherboard to underpin your gaming system then it becomes a lot harder to recommend when compared to some other options available.
The overclocking is the star of the show with a beefy 4.9GHz attained from our i7-4770K. The results in the majority of CPU-based benchmarks shows that this isn't just a nice number on your CPUz either, with the Krait up amongst the heavy hitters we've reviewed in the past. The only area of raw CPU performance that was nowhere near as good as we'd hoped was the encryption/decryption benchmarks. The AES score was abysmal. Fortunately that's a very tiny part of anyone's daily experience.
That 3D performance though is more problematic.
If it was just a case of bad benchmark, good gaming then clearly it's easy to recommend because we want real-world performance rather than just a good score. Or if it was a single title it's easier to dismiss it as an aberration. With the Krait though we saw low 3D Mark scores, pretty bad Unigine Valley results and really bad indeed gaming results. In fact as we moved from a test that's very synthetic (3D Mark) to one that tests the whole system (Unigine Valley) before finally hitting the world of actual gaming, the results just got worse and worse. It might be a motherboard capable of 8x/8x SLI but it struggled with a single 16x GTX780Ti so we're not holding out hope that the SLI performance is much better.
The primary thing that will attract attention are the looks and that really low price tag. We still think that if you're determined to primarily utilise your system as a gaming rig then the extra thirty or forty pounds necessary for any of the other Z97 motherboards we've tested would be very wisely spent. However if you just want to build a system that has a primary use of media streaming, internet tasks or any other non-3D application then this is certainly worthy of consideration and so it attains our OC3D Value For Money award.
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