MSI lets loose a trio of Optane motherboard bundles


— 4:00 PM on April 25, 2017

The results that Jeff got from one of those Optane cache drives are pretty promising, don't you think? MSI also seems to think so, as it's launching three motherboard bundles with pre-installed 16GB Optane Memory devices. The Z270 Tomahawk, B250M Bazooka, and B250M Pro are all getting models with "Opt Boost" appended their names to let buyers know they include an Optane cache.

We've seen the Z270 Tomahawk before. In case you haven't, it's an ATX motherboard that marks the top end of MSI's Arsenal Gaming series. Fittingly, it includes the sort of niceties that you expect from a quality mainboard, like reinforced power delivery, support for extremely high-speed memory, USB 3.1 ports, and dual M.2 sockets. The Opt Boost version is unchanged aside from the inclusion of a 16GB Optane Memory device in the second M.2 socket.

The B250M Bazooka is also part of the Arsenal Gaming family. This micro-ATX motherboard cuts a few features from the Z270 Tomahawk, as it uses an Intel B250 chipset. That means there's no support for overclocking (including memory overclocking), and it also means there are fewer PCIe lanes to spread around. As a result, the Optane Memory device included with the Opt Boost version takes up the board's single M.2 socket. The Opt Boost version of this board also has a more subdued color scheme than its predecessor.

Finally, MSI's press release mentions the B250M Pro Opt Boost, but there's no product page up for it yet. Oddly enough, MSI doesn't sell a motherboard simply titled "B250M Pro," so it's not clear exactly which model the Opt Boost version is based on. We're fans of the B250M Pro-VDH as a low-cost value board thanks to its M.2 socket and USB 3.1 ports, both fairly uncommon at the $90 price point. Hopefully the B250M Pro Opt Boost bundle is based on a similar board.

Of course, the little cache drive won't be that much use if you're already booting from an SSD, since Optane Memory only caches the system disk. An Optane cache can make an otherwise hard-drive-only system feel an awful lot like an SSD-equipped machine, though, and in that scenario, having just the one M.2 socket isn't a big problem.  MSI's announcement didn't include pricing or availability for the bundles.

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