Overall and Final Verdict
With the launch of a new architecture the best part to me is getting to see what all of the motherboard manufactures have been working on. Typically they don’t release a lot of boards in between launches so a new launch means new features and sometimes completely new styling. MSI took this launch as a chance to work on their styling. The Z170A Gaming M5 has a new bright red and black look with a completely redesigned and cleaned up heatsink design that is without a doubt much cooler and cleaner looking than MSIs gaming boards in the past. More importantly being MSI’s mid ranged gaming board I was a little concerned with what it would have for features but they actually packed a lot in. On top of the fairly standard stuff they packed in two M.2 slots as well as SATA Express ports so storage speed isn’t going to be a problem in the future. In addition it has a few USB 3.1 ports including a Type-C port that should give you a taste of the new universal plug. I wouldn’t mind having a few more ports overall, but they did have to cut a little to keep it mid ranged. I do wish that they would have left a power button on the board, it’s a little weird to see a board like this not have one anymore, especially with it having an LED diagnostic readout.
MSI has been working on their software and with that the UEFI was easy to use and had all of the features I needed. I did have problems when installing Windows 7 that were partially caused because of having to turn on an option in the UEFI to have a mouse and keyboard during the install so keep that in mind. The Gaming APP that they included with the board was surprisingly good and their other software (when I got it working) hasn’t changed but was good just like it has been in the past. I do wish that they would take all of their programs and put everything together to make the install easier. Taking a little from Gigabyte, having a base app that you can uninstall or install all of the different features would be perfect.
My last complaint about the MSI Z170A Gaming M5 is petty but I think the name is getting a little long. The M in the M5 reminds me far to much of BMW and they could cut things down to a nice Z170 G5 and get the same point across. I do love that they keep the number scheme simple and easy to know where in the product lineup it is, I just would love to see it be a little shorter. This is most likely from me having to say it so many times when writing this though, so take it with a grain of salt.
So is this the board to go with on your upcoming Skylake build? Well it has all of the features that I think you will need over the next few years so that isn’t a problem. MSI went above and beyond on the audio setup and with things like the metal PCI slots. The Z170 platform has an insane range of products and prices right now and this seems to fall in just above the mid-way point but you do get a little more in features than everything else I’m seeing at a similar price point.
Live Pricing: HERE