MSI starts its Z370 motherboard party with two decked-out models

Intel's Z370 chipset may not bring a lot of new features when compared to the Z270 that blew into town along with the Kaby Lake desktop CPUs earlier this year, but builders will need boards with the new chipset to use the blue silicon giant's Coffee Lake processors. MSI has announced a pair of Z370-based boards, the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and the Z370 Godlike Gaming. Both boards are sprinkled with a generous supply of RGB LEDs controlled through MSI's Mystic Light utility.

The Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC gives the story away with its name. The board comes with an Intel controller that provides 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. The integrated Gigabit Ethernet port is also run by an Intel chip. Buyers can add up to four DDR4 DIMMs and two M.2 SSDs in addition to whatever they jam into the pair of steel-reinforced PCIe x16 slots and three PCIe x1 slots. The sixth PCIe slot is wired up with four lanes, but it can fit any size PCIe expansion card. Digital pack rats can attach up to six SATA drives.

The board is adorned with carbon-fiber decorations on the PCB and the I/O and chipset covers. MSI thinks its implementation of Realtek's ALC1220 codec coupled with Nahimic software is good enough for most users to forgo a sound card. The rear I/O is studded with USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A and Type-C ports, eight USB 3.0 connectors, a PS/2 port, audio jacks, and a DisplayPort output.

The Z370 Godlike Gaming board trades away the Intel wireless combo card for an integrated Killer Wi-Fi setup, albeith without Bluetooth support. The Killer NIC implementation on this board includes the company's xTend technology that integrates a network switch into the Wi-Fi controller and allows the PC to act as a range extender when connected to the internet through Ethernet or with Wi-Fi.

The name of the game with the Z370 Godlike Gaming is "more." The board has more RGB LEDs than its Pro Carbon sibling, has five M.2 slots available when the included two-device M.2 riser card is installed, and has four steel-jacketed full-length PCIe slots, plus a lone x1 slot. Each of the three Gigabit Ethernet jacks has its own Killer E2500 controller chip. The audio implementation sports two Realtek ALC1220 codecs with ESS DACs and WIMA and Nichicon capacitors. There's also a 1/4" (6.4 mm) jack for connecting high-end headphones without an adapter.

MSI didn't provide any pricing or availability information. We expect the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC to be priced a little higher than the $160-$170 the Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon fetches on Amazon and Newegg, given that it comes with a Wi-Fi controller. As for the Z370 Godlike Gaming, we suspect it will substantially more affordable than the last product MSI bestowed with a similar name, the X99A Godlike Gaming. That board currently changes hands for $450 on Amazon and Newegg.

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