MSI Z97 Gaming 6 Review – MSI Gaming, albeit a new line in MSI’s arsenal of products, has had a tangible effect on the marketplace. And you can tell. With so many manufacturers creating their own ‘gaming’ lines in response to MSI’s fiery dragon, it has quite the reputation to live up to. Is MSI’s Z97 Gaming 6 motherboard worthy of wearing the prestigious red garb in line with so many of its brothers?
The board comes in at a lower price point in comparison to the alternatives in this test, even for this socket. As such, you tend to lose a lot of the flair you get from other higher-priced alternatives.
This means smaller heatsinks, less glamorous cooling solutions and generally not a lot of colour beyond that. Despite that, however, it still features a fully black PCB, black and red Northbridge heatsinks and a rather nice illuminated line that separates the audio solution from the rest of the PCB, just in case we didn’t know that it wasn’t separated already. But we have to admit, we like the implementation of it.
Let’s face it, however, this is only half of the story. What about the guts of it? Well, the Gaming 6 comes with an internal M.2 slot for 10Gbps drive speed, one SATA Express port, and an additional six SATA 6Gbps ports. This means your storage troubles are entirely covered, regardless of what you decide to do.
There’s also access to two sets of internal USB 3 headers, one of which is (brilliantly, we might add) right-angled to allow for easier cable routing and management of that pesky front I/O cable we’ve all come to hate. And, of course, there’s the plethora of fan connectors and additional USB 2 ports. Handy if you’re plugging in an all-in-one water cooler such as the Corsair Hydro series or NZXT’s Kraken.
For PCIe support, MSI has kindly provided three PCIe gen3 slots for use in 16x0x0, 8x8x0 or 8x4x4, so ideally, you don’t want to be pushing more than two-way crossfire or SLI. basic, but solid Rear I/O is a little slim on the ground here, but for the price point, that’s to be expected. There’s access to two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a single Gigabit Ethernet, VGA (God forbid you’re still using a VGA monitor), DVI-I, HDMI, Optical Audio out, 5.1 audio, a PS/2 port for backwards compatible/lag free gaming and one single USB 3.1 Type C port. It’s important to note here that there’s only one USB 3.1 port on this motherboard and it’s the Type C standard, so it won’t work with more traditional USB devices.
The Z97 Gaming 6 is certainly a solid performer when it comes to overclocking, as well as general all-round performance. Although it does take some time to get your head around the UEFI BIOS, we did then manage to overclock the old girl up to a very respectable 4.8GHz, in line with the rest of our motherboard benchmarks, while also still maintaining our memory frequencies at 2,133MHz.
All in all, this motherboard is a fantastic entry-level board to the world of PC gaming. It doesn’t come ram-packed with features and as large a software set as some of the other products in this supertest, but it’s got more than enough to it for the average gamer.
So, if gaming is your M.O., and you love a bit of the old black and red colour scheme, this mobo is definitely a solid choice. If you have a bit of extra cash in your pocket though, we’d suggest getting the Z97A Gaming 7 or 9 instead, as you’ll be much better off in the long run with regards to USB support and general expandability.
- Great value
- Performs well
- Looks great
- USB 3.1 Type C
- Right-angled USB 3.1
- Lacks features
- Cooling support is limited
- Difficult install
MSI Z97 Gaming 6 Specifications
- CPU support Intel X99 / 1150
- Form factor ATX
- USB 3.1 support 1x USB 3.1 Type C
- M.2 support 1x M.2