With every new generation of Intel CPUs we usually get new chipsets, and that means new motherboards. Not wanting to be left out of the Z270 chipset party, MSI has its own volley of modernized mainboards ready for release. The company says it will be showing "over 30 models in 4 segments" at CES, although its pre-show press release shines the spotlight on the Gaming series of mobos. MSI counts 24 new entries that lineup alone.
As it's historically done, MSI is grouping its motherboard offerings in Arsenal, Performance, and Enthusiast families. The Enthusiast-class boards are MSI's top-end offerings, and the company is showing off two Z270 boards from that family: the Z270 Gaming M7 and the Z270 XPower Gaming Titanium.
MSI says the Z270 Gaming M7 offers "flawless supremacy." That's a superlative statement, but the Gaming M7 certainly is a full-featured motherboard. It includes every single one of MSI's signature features, like RGB Mystic Light, the M.2 Shield heatsink, and Audio Boost amplification, just to name a few. All three PCIe x16 slots and all four DIMM slots are reinforced with "Steel Armor" in case builders get real enthusiastic during installation.
Its cousin, the Z270 XPower Gaming Titanium, is the new ne plus ultra of the MSI Enthusiast Gaming family. It certainly looks the part. Compared to the Gaming M7 above, this board gains a fourth PCIe x16 slot, a third M.2 socket, and a second gigabit Ethernet connection. It also sports two USB 3.1 Type-C connections—one for the front-panel and one in the back—and a DisplayPort output, which isn't nearly as common on motherboards as it should be. Surprisingly, what this board lacks is a set of RGB LEDs. Gerbils sick of rainbow blinkenlichten should keep an eye out for this one.
The Performance Gaming family is focused on flash and style. This time around, the Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon is headlining the series. This board is pretty similar to the Gaming M7 and primarily differs in its visual styling based on sports cars and racing rather than the starship-inspired design of the M7. As befits a flashy mobo like this one, RGB Mystic Light LEDs make an appearance. We just reviewed this board and found it to be simultaneously solid and stylish.
Finally, MSI's Arsenal Gaming family contains the workhorses of the series. The Tomahawk name is once again heading up the family, in the form of the Z270 Tomahawk. Like the rest of the Arsenal family, this board's design is inspired by military imagery. Despite being the baseline of MSI's Gaming motherboard offerings, the Z270 Tomahawk is still quite full-featured. A trio of PCIe x16 slots support AMD Crossfire, although only one is protected by Steel Armor. The Tomahawk still gets a pair of M.2 sockets, which appears to be a more-or-less standard feature on MSI's new high-end models.
These are just a scant few of the motherboards MSI is bringing out with the 200 series chipsets, of course. The company's full lineup includes boards using the new H270 and B250 chipsets as well, in each of the Enthusiast, Performance, and Arsenal series. We'll probably see the majority of these boards and more of MSI's offerings at CES.