38 MSI Z270 Gaming M5

MSI Z270 Gaming M5 Motherboard Review

  1. Intro: MSI Z270 Gaming M5!
  2. Motherboard Overview
  3. Sub-Component Overview and CPU/VGA Compatibility
  4. UEFI Overview
  5. Test System and Testing Metholody
  6. CPU Overclocking and Memory Profile benchmark
  7. SATA Performance Testing
  8. USB 3.1 Gen 1 Transfer Test
  9. Boot Load Timings
  10. Conclusion
  11. Online Purchase Links

Disclosure: The review unit is provided by MSI

About the Intel Z270 Chipset

Along with the Kaby lake launch, Intel released a series of 100 series chipset for various segments. The Intel Z270 platform is the enthusiast class, while the Z250, H270, Q250 and the Q270 chipset are for the lower price segments. The MSI Z270 Gaming M5 looks to be a promising motherboard, but we’ll take a look at Intel Z270’s offerings.

The PCIe lane distribution is the same as its previous counterparts- Z170 and the Z97. It works as a 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 or 2x PCIe 3.0 x8 mode. There are 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes in total, also support for up to six SATA 6Gb/s ports, 10x USB 3.0 ports, 14, USB 2.0 ports and even supporting DDR3L, provided if any manufacturers will bother to utilize that.

There are some new features, as you would notice there are four additional PCIe 3.0 lanes, native support up to 2400MHz DDR4 memory and Device Protection Technology with Boot Guard. For some strange reason, Intel didn’t mention anything about its Optane technology, since that was meant to be one of the key highlights of this chipset.

About the MSI Z270 Gaming M5

MSI Z270 Gaming M5 seems to be taking advantage of its native features as much as possible. It also provides two M.2 mounts (With RAID) which share lanes with some of the SATA 6Gbs as many mainstream motherboard users will be aware from their past experiences. One of its own selling points are two USB ports specifically labeled  ‘VR Ready’ and ‘VR Boost’. In a nutshell, it provides clean signals to avoid any latency.

I am not a fan of labeling “gaming” on PC components. Due to various brands, it either means “Too expensive” and “Too cheap in quality and price”. We’ve seen cases when even the highest selling motherboard brand use low-cost solutions with ‘gamer’ tag. It limits one person’s opinion about anything with that word is a versatile product. That might be one person’s opinion, but we’ve seen success on both sides. Such as Kingston labeling HyperX towards gaming in full force and releasing headsets in a speed that nobody would bother to keep count, while Cooler Master chopped off “CM Storm” for Master series with a limited release with a time period.

Packaging and Contents

MSI Z270 Gaming M5’s packaging is very straightforward and it shows the motherboard’s design on both sides of the packaging. It lists its specification and features on the rear. The listing of its slots, expansion opportunities and the I/O layout is very appreciated.

The motherboard is neatly packed in an anti-static bag inside a cardboard tray. Once removed, you’ll see a reasonable amount of add-ons and reading materials. SATA cables are limited to three, but you get a light kit’s extension cable. MSI provides a metal case badge and a ribbon SLI bridge, a set of stickers to label your SATA cables at both ends. As usual, you get an installation disc. Personally, I would like to see the day when all motherboard manufacturers would replace the driver disc for a flash drive.

Do you think it’s overdue at least for some mid to high-end motherboards? It’s a debatable topic as I’ve seen ZOTAC not providing installation disc with GTX 1050 Ti. The required installation folders exceed 6 GB.


CPU Supports 7th/6th Gen Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors and Intel Pentium and Celeron processors for Socket LGA 1151
Chipset Intel Z270 Chipset
  • 4x DDR4 memory slots, supports up to 64GB
    • 7th Gen processors support DDR4 3800 (OC)/3600 (OC)/ 2800 (OC)/ 2600 (OC)/ 2400 (OC) 2133MHz
    • 6th Gen processors Support DDR4 3800 (OC)/3600 (OC)/ 2800 (OC)/ 2600 (OC)/ 2400 (OC) 2133MHz
  • Dual-Channel memory architecture
  • Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Expansion Slots
  • 3x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16/x0/x4, x8/x8.x4 modes)
  • 3x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
Onboard Graphics
  • 1x HDMI port, supports a maximum resolution of 4096 x 2160 @ 30 Hz (7th CPU), 4096 x 2160 @ 24Hz (6th CPU), 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
  • 1x DisplayPort, supports a maximum resolution of 4096 x 2340 @ 24Hz, 3840 x 2160 @ 60Hz, 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz
  • Supports two-way Nvidia SLI
  • Supports three-way AMD Crossfire
Storage Intel Z270 Chipset:

  • 6x SATA 6Gb/s ports*
  • 2x M.2 Slots (Key M)
    • Support up to PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA 6Gb/s
    • M2_1 slot supports 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices
    • M2_2 slot supports 2242/2260/2280 storage devices
    • Intel Optane Memory Ready for all M.2 slots
  • 1x U.2 port**
    • Supports up to PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe U.2 SSD
  • Supports Intel Smart Response Technology
RAID Intel Z270 Chipset:

  • Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10 for SATA storage drivers
  • Supports RAID 0 and RAID 1 for M.2 storage devices
  • ASMedia ASM2141 Chipset:
    • 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) Type-C port on the back panel
    • 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 (SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps) Type-A port on the back panel
  • Intel Z270 Chipset:
    • 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (SuperSpeed USB) ports (2 Type-A ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB connectors)
    • 7x USB 2.0 (High-Speed USB) ports (3 Type-A ports on the back panel, 4 poorts available through the internal USB connectors)
  • Realtek ALC 1120 Codec
  • 7.1 Channel High Definition audio
LAN 1X Killer E2500 Gigabit LAN controller
Back Panel Connectors
  • 1x PS/2 mouse and keyboard combo port
  • 3x USB 2.0 ports
    • 1x BIOS flashback+ port
  • 1x clear CMOS button
  • 1x DisplayPort
  • 1x HDMI
  • 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
  • 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
  • 1x LAN port
  • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports
  • 1x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector
  • 5x OFC audio jacks
Internal Connectors
  • 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1x 8-[in ATX 12v power connector
  • 6x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 1x U.2 port
  • 2x M.2 slots
  • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports)
  • 2x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
  • 1x 4-pin CPU fan connector
  • 1x 4-pin water-pump fan connector
  • 4x 4-pin system fan connectors
  • 1x front panel audio connector
  • 2x front panel connectors
  • 1x serial port connector
  • 1x TPM module connector
  • 1x Chassis intrusion connector
  • 1x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1x BIOS FLASHBACK+ button
  • 1x 2-digit Debug Code LED
I/O Controller NUVOTON NCT6795 Controller Chip
Hardware Monitor
  • CPU/System temperature detection
  • CPU/System fan speed detection
  • CPU/System fan speed control
Form Factor
  • ATX Form Factor
  • 12.0 in. X 9.6 in.
BIOS Features
  • 1x 128Mb Flash
  • ACPI 5.0, PnP 1.0a, SM BIOS 2.8
  • Multi-Language
  • Drivers
  • xSplit Game Caster V2
  • SteelSeries Engine 3
  • CPU-Z MSI Gaming
  • Intel XTU
  • Norton Internet Security
  • Google Chrome, Toolbar, Drive
Special Features
  • Audio Boost 4
  • Nahimic 2
  • GAMING LAN with Killer
  • WTFast
  • Turbo U.2
  • Optane Ready
  • Twin Turbo M.2
  • M.2 Genie
  • Mystic Light Extension (RGB)
  • DDR4 Shield
  • M.2 Shield
  • PCI-e Steel Armour
  • U.2 Steel Armour
  • M.2 Steel Armour
  • Golden A+C
  • VR Cover
  • Multi-GPU SLI
  • Multi-GPU CF
  • DDR4 Boost 2
  • GAME Boost
  • OC Engine
  • Lightning USB
  • X-Boost
  • Military-Class 5
  • 7000+ Quality Test
  • VR Boost
  • VR Ready
  • Dragon Eye
  • Xsplit
  • RAMDisk
  • Click BIOS 5
  • BIOS Flashback+

Manual Overview

MSI’s detailed specification table nicely points out all the expansion options and features that this motherboard offers. MSI’s motherboard manual made a good impression with its X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. Not only it has all the instructions for installing even the basic hardware component, it also provides QR code linking to YouTube videos, helping people to build their first system on their own. While basic illustrations are common with almost all motherboard brands, linking YouTube video instructions shows that extra mile. The PDF copy can be downloaded from here.

  1. Hello. Nice review.
    Can you tell me if only CPU and PUMP headers are capable of PWM and DC mode fan control or the system fan headers can do that also???
    For example my Z87 G65 gaming can only do PWM control at CPU headers while system headers are DC only.
    Much appreciated.

    1. All headers have that option in this motherboard, including CPU_FAN header! You can also set custom fan profiles for all the headers as well.

  2. Recently bought this motherboard with M.2 Samsung 960 Evo.
    Not recognising the M.2 Drive, which I thought would be natively recognised. Could you advise?

    1. It is plug and play so it should be natively detected. Did you try using the second M.2 slot? Before that try flashing the motherboard with the latest BIOS.

  3. I just sent back the second Z270 M5 board to Newegg. The first one wouldn’t take more than one memory chip for some reason. I would get code 55 when I installed more than one chip. The second one ended up being a dead board. No power what-so-ever. I switched out the power supply and the board still didn’t respond. I’m in the process of calling MSI and letting them know what I think of their M5 board.

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