MSI GAMING Nightblade Z97 Review – About seven months ago, MSI loaned us what was easily one of their most exciting and new products then for a review.
It was the GAMING Nightblade barebones system that was designed to provide gamers with an easy solution when it comes to building a portable gaming PC. The first Nightblade utilised Intel’s Z87 chipset and since Intel launched their new 9-series chipset awhile back, MSI went ahead and refreshed the GAMING Nightblade and it now comes with a Z97 motherboard. Design and looks wise, the Z97 version of the GAMING Nightblade actually looks exactly the same as the Z87 version, which is not a big problem to us as we believe that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
This means that the Nightblade is still nice and portable and yet has enough space on the inside to fit some high-end hardware. Seeing as this is a barebones system, it only comes equipped with a Z97I GAMING AC mini-ITX motherboard, a 600W 80 PLUS Gold PSU and optical drive. Like we said before, this is quite a good foundation for a mid-range to high-end gaming rig, especially since it now supports Intel’s 5th Generation Core i processors.
Much like before, users will have to equip the Nightblade with the components such as the RAMs, HDDs, SSDs and graphics card of their choice. Seeing as the chassis hasn’t changed, it still comes with enough room to easily fit either an AMD Radeon R9 290X or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti without a problem.
Of course, don’t expect to get a system with a CrossFireX or SLI multi GPU configuration. For even better performance, there’s also enough space for multiple SSDs and mSATA storage devices and if you have the cash for it, you can always take advantage of MSI’s Super RAID technology. One of the major changes this time around however when it comes to the overall package is the fact that MSI is no longer bundling the custom size CPU heatsink, this is quite unfortunate as the CPU cooler made buying components less of headache. But with that said, the chassis still comes with the MSI Dragon case fan that has maximum fan speed of 3,600RPM, three air vents for maximum air flow and an open bottom for the graphics card to disperse heat.
All in all, the refreshed MSI GAMING Nightblade Z97 is just as attractive as the previous version plus it is also much cheaper compared to the Z87 variant. However, the lower price does come with a compromise, namely the CPU heatsink. But with what it offers, it is still a great option for gamers who don’t want a more simple solution to rig building.
- Portable chassis
- Easy assembly
- Enough space to fit high-end graphics cards
- Z97I GAMING motherboard
- Powerful PSU
- More affordable compared to previous Nightblade
- Looks the same and comes with same features
- No CPU cooler
MSI GAMING Nightblade Z97 Specifications
- CPU: Supports Intel 4th & 5th Generation Core i3/i5/i7
- Chipset: Intel Z97
- Motherboard: MSI Z97I GAMING AC
- Storage: HDD: Support 1x 3.5-inch/ 2x 2.5- inch, SSD: 2x m-SATA
- RAM: Max 16GB (2x Long-DIMMs)
- Graphics: Support dual-slot, max 290mm length
- Resolution: Support up to 4K (4,096 x 2,160 @ 24Hz)
- Audio: 7.1 Channel HD Audio – Realtek ALC1150 Codec
- Optical Drive: Slim Slot-in, Super-multi (optional)
- I/O (Front): 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x Mic-In, 1x Audio Jack
- I/O (Rear): 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo, 1x LAN (RJ-45), 2x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0, 2x eSATA, 1x Optical S/PDIF Out connector, 6x OFC audio jacks, 2x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort
- Connectivity: E2205 Killer Gigabit LAN, 802.11AC + Bluetooth 4.0
- Mic-in / Headphone-out: 1 / 1
- PSU: 600W 80 PLUS Gold
- Dimensions: 345.8 x 277.33 x 175.7mm
- Weight: 7.6kg