Reviewed: MSI Z97I Gaming AC & R9 270X Mini ITX - Z97I Gaming AC Specifications Featured

Z97I Gaming AC Motherboard

Looking back at the Z87M Gaming that we reviewed a few months ago, I had high expectations. We've seen a positive trend across all the major manufacturers in terms of increasing the number of enthusiast features on their boards in all form factors and the jump in added value to the mini ITX lines has been nothing but good news for gamers. 

When we applied the standard 'gaming' checklist to the Z97I Gaming AC, it ticked all the boxes

tickboxGaming LAN (Killer)
tickboxGaming Grade Audio (AudioBoost 2 with SB Cinema 2)
tickboxOverclocker Friendly 
tickboxEnthusiast Software bundle 

As with most MSI products, the designers used Military Grade components for longevity, durability and reliability because nobody likes an RMA ticket on their gear - this is great to see and becoming a standard across the major manufacturers' enthusiast lines. 

The Z97I Gaming AC overclocked our i5-4670K as well as any other motherboard we tested, hitting our known limit of 4.6GHz with the magic 1.29v. Depending on your mini ITX build, overclocking might not be a priority but it's nice to see that it's also not a sacrifice of the smaller form factor.


msi-z97i gaming ac-product pictures-3d1
MSI Z97I Gaming AC

CPU Support

Supports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors, and Intel® Pentium® and Celeron® Processors for Socket LGA1150


Intel® Z97 Express Chipset


Support two DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2000*/2133*/2200*/2400*/2600*/2666*
/2800*/3000*/3100*/3200*/3300*(*OC) MHz DRAM

16GB Max
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
- Supports non-ECC, un-buffered memory

Memory Channel



1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots

On-Board SATA

Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- 4 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1~4)
- 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s ports
- Supports RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10
- Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Intel® Smart Connect Technology*

*Supports Intel Core processors on Windows 7 and Windows 8/ 8.1


Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB 3.0 connectors)
- 6 x USB 2.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB 2.0 connectors*)
Audio Realtek® ALC1150 Codec
- 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
- Supports S/PDIF output


1x Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN controller*

* The Killer Network Manager is only available for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 currently. The supported drivers for other operating systems would be available on the website if provided by vendor.
Wireless LAN Wi-Fi/Bluetooth expansion module with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 chip.
- Supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz) up to 867 Mbps speed.
- Supports Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)

Wi-Fi/Bluetooth expansion module with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 chip.
- Supports Bluetooth v4.0 (includes BLE* and Bluetooth 3.0+HS)

* BLE: Bluetooth Low Energy

Internal I/O Connections - 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 1 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 2 USB 2.0 ports)
- 1 x USB 3.0 connector (supports additional 2 USB 3.0 ports)
- 1 x 4-pin CPU fan connectors
- 1 x 4-pin system fan connectors
- 1 x Front panel audio connector
- 2 x System panel connectors
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module connector
Back Panel I/O Ports - 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse port
- 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x eSATA ports
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
- 6 x OFC audio jacks
- 2 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096X2304@24Hz/ 2560X1600@60Hz/ 3840X2160@60Hz/1920X1200@60Hz
- 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096X2304@24Hz/ 2560X1600@60Hz/ 3840X2160@60Hz/1920X1200@60Hz
BIOS • The motherboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The motherboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your motherboard specifications.
Dimensions 6.7 in. x 6.7 in. (17 cm x 17 cm) Mini-ITX Form Factor
Mounting 4 Mounting Holes

The box and packaging is good quality in the standard black and red colour scheme with enough dragons on it to make sure you don't forget it's from the MSI Gaming line. The motherboard is packed inside an anti-static bag and all of the accessories are individually wrapped.

The accessories include:

  • 4 SATA 3 Cables
  • WIFI Module and 2 Antennae
  • Nice Dragon/MSI Gaming Case badge with a carbon Fibre like backing
  • Rear IO Shield with interference shielding and a force absorbing layer
  • Door Hanger
  • Set of Cable Labels
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Last modified onWednesday, 18 June 2014 19:24

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