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MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC

Over the last few years small builds have been becoming more and more popular. Both for LAN rigs like we have been using for a long time, but even for main PCs. This is partially due to more parts being available but mostly some people are tired of dealing with huge heavy cases, especially when you can do nearly anything you want in the Mini-ITX form factor. Late this fall I started thinking about a new LAN rig, maybe even another iteration of our LunchBox series, before I did that though I really needed to check out the new Z170 boards. That leads me to today where I’m going to check out MSI’s gaming focused Mini-ITX board, the Z170I Gaming Pro AC. I’ve used a few of MSI’s ITX boards in builds before and I’m excited to see what this one has to offer.

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Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming-7

With the launch of Intel’s latest chipset and the i7-6700 CPU it’s no surprise that they brought along with them a long list of new motherboards from every manufacture. At the launch I took a look at one of MSIs boards. After the launch though we jumped into GPU mode and covered the latest budget cards. Past that I slipped in a vacation and then of course our 17th LAN event. With all of that past us I can finally revisit Z170 and take a look at the Gigabyte GA-Z170X Gaming 7. I’m excited to see what Gigabyte has packed into the board as far as features go and to find out how it compares to the MSI. So today I’m going to dig through the Gaming 7s features then put it to the test, let’s get to it!

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MSI Z170A Gaming M5

We can’t very well launch a completely new CPU with a new chipset without a motherboard right? Well MSI sent over their new Z170A Gaming M5 motherboard for us to test out Skylake and also to see what MSI has to offer in their new Z170 boards. Today I will be taking a look at their mid ranged gaming motherboard.  We have already seen how Skylake performs with our i7-6700K review, now I’m going to dig into the Z170A Gaming M5 and see what sets it apart from the competition. Enjoy!

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Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion

So what is now years ago Adam and I were at a press event for Gigabyte at CES. At that event I spent some time playing against a pro gamer and we also had the chance to see them introduce their new games series of motherboards. At the end of that speech they slipped in a quick sneak peak of a new line of overclocking motherboards with an orange theme that they called OC Orange. Now I think everyone knows just how much I love orange and OC orange to me is LanOC orange, a color that we have used on the website from nearly the start. At that time Adam wrote that he imagined that I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I got my hands on one of the boards. Well it has been a long few years, but today is finally the day. Gigabyte sent over their new X99-SOC Champion flagship overclocking board and today I’m going to dig into it and see what it is all about. Oddly enough now that I can sleep, I want nothing more than to stay up and see what sets the board apart from the competition.

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Asus Crossblade Ranger

So last week I took a look at Asus’s AM3+ board, today I have the chance to take a look at a more recent AMD based ROG board called the Crossblade Ranger. Asus launched the Crossblade Ranger not to long ago and as you can tell from the lack of any numbers in the name this is their first Republic of Gamers FM2+ board. Why did they take so long to bring one out? Frankly the FM2+ platform was always designed to be more of a mainstream platform but that didn’t stop some people from using them for gaming. Asus noticed there was interest in a gaming focused board and here we are. Today I’m going to dive into the Crossblade Ranger and see what kind of features Asus packed in then after that I will get it on the testbench and make sure it performs like it should as well.

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Asus Crosshair V Formula-Z

Due to Intel releasing new chipsets often a lot of people might think that the motherboard market has a big focus on Intel boards. As I have seen in the past on our forums, our Facebook, and even at our events there is still a large AMD following that is hungry for the latest and greatest to support their preferred vender as well. Well when looking to lock in a board for future AM3+ testing I ended up with the Asus Crosshair V Formula in my hands. Today I’m going to dig into it and see what makes it Asus’s flagship AMD board.

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Asus Maximus VII Impact

When it comes to Mini-ITX motherboards people are going to have a wide range of feature requirements. For some, as long as it supports their CPU and it has a x16 PCIe slot they are good to go. Others want to have a lot of the features they would find in their full sized builds including wireless AC, different storage connection options, and even upgraded audio. Personally I have been on both sides. When I’m building a budget Mini-ITX build I can skip out on the features but when I’m building a crazy LAN rig like the build we put in the In Win D-Frame Mini only the best will do. Asus continues to impress me with their drive to pack anything and everything into their Impact boards. Well today I’m going to take a look at the latest one, the Maximus VII Impact. This is officially the second Impact board, based on the Z97 chipset. Is this the perfect LAN rig motherboard? Let’s find out.

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Biostar A68N-5000

If you are anything like me then you most likely aren’t just limited to having a PC or two in your office, you most likely are using an HTPC or something similar at one or more televisions in your house. You could just pick up one of the many options available on the market right now, or you could put together something yourself. I’ve done this a few times in the past but over the past few years the prices for capable components have come down and let’s be honest, the performance requirements aren’t really going anywhere until 4k becomes a little cheaper. So today I’m going to take a look at a nice budget motherboard with a built in quad core AMD Fusion APU from Biostar. I don’t expect the A68N-5000 to be a hardcore gaming board, I’m really just curious how well it will handle simple tasks that an HTPC or small home server would require.

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MSI X99S MPower

When shopping for a new motherboard I’ve found that a lot of people tend to lean toward what you have had good experiences with in the past. For me I have a short list of companies that I tend to prefer in my personal rigs and MSI is on that list. When I covered the X99 launch I didn’t have the chance to check out their X99 offerings but today I finally do. They sent over the X99S MPower. It isn’t their highest end board but it is damn close. Now I can sit down and see how it compares to the competition. My previous experiences with MSI MPower boards have been good, but the X99 boards I have tested to date have been extremely good, will it be able to keep up? Let’s find out.

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EVGA X99 Classified

When EVGA announced their first Classified motherboard back with X58 I saved up my money so I could get one soon after its launch. The X58 Classified was one of the first mega high end motherboards on the market and it started a race to the top to see who could make the coolest motherboard possible while trying to pack in the highest overclocking headroom as possible. From then on EVGA has introduced Classified motherboards for each Intel chipset launched. They have even expanded into Classified GPUs as well! Well with the launch of X99 it wasn’t a big surprise that EVGA would be ready to go with their latest and greatest based on the new enthusiast chipset. Today I’m going to see how it compares to the other X99’s on the market and see just how far things have come from the X58 Classified that is still hanging on my office wall.  

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