We've already written about a couple of MSI's motherboards built around Intel's Z370 chipset for the eighth-generation Core CPUs scheduled for release on Thursday. The chipset itself doesn't pack a whole lot of excitement, but the processors represent the first time the silicon magicians in blue have increased core counts in mainstream desktop chips since the Core 2 Quad was released back in 2006. The dragon-branded motherboard maker is firing from both barrels with a whopping 13 boards based on the Z370 chipset.
MSI breaks its boards down into four different classifications from entry-level to premium: Pro Series, Arsenal Gaming, Performance Gaming, and Enthusiast Gaming. The Pro Series has three members: the Z370 PC Pro, the Z370-A Pro, and the Z370 SLI Plus. All three are ATX boards with four DDR4 DIMM slots, at least two full-length PCIe slots, and support for AMD multi-GPU configurations. The PC Pro and the SLI Plus both have USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports and a pair of M.2 slots. The SLI Plus, as one might expect, is the only one of the three that supports Nvidia SLI setups. Opponents of the spread of RGB LED illumination will probably want to pick the Z370 PC Pro, which only has white LED accent lighting.
The Arsenal Gaming step-up group is made up of the Z370 Tomahawk and the Z370M Mortar. The Tomahawk is another full-size ATX board with plenty of RGB LED lighting that works with MSI's Mystic Light control software. USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports are included. MSI hasn't put up a product page for the Z370M Mortar yet, but our intuition tells us the board will be quite similar to the Tomahawk, but squeezed into a microATX footprint.
The largest group is the six-member Performance Gaming series, spanning three different form factors. MSI didn't provide any information about the Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC or the Z370M Gaming Pro AC, but we suspect the former is a Mini-ITX board with a carbon fiber motif and the latter is a microATX number. We expect both versions to include integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Z370 Gaming Plus, Z370 Krait Gaming, Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon, and Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC are all ATX models with four DDR4 DIMM slots, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, and steel armor on at least one of the full-length PCIe slots. The red-lit Z370 Gaming Plus is a stripped-down model and lacks Nvidia SLI capability, RGB LED illumination, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports.
The Enthusiast Gaming clade includes only the Z370 Gaming M5 and the Z370 Godlike Gaming that we wrote about last week. Both boards are ATX jobs with four steel-jacketed DDR4 DIMM slots, tons of RGB LEDs, and a Realtek ALC1220 codec with Nahimic 2 software. Both mobos pack Rivet Networks' Killer Gaming networking hardware, but only the Godlike board includes integrated Wi-Fi, a second LAN port, and an included riser card that brings the M.2 slot count up to five.
MSI didn't release any pricing or availability information. However, we imagine the prices won't be too far off from the tags attached to equivalent Z270 models, and that at least a fraction of the 13 models on offer will be in stores on Thursday when the compatible Intel CPUs hit the market. If you thought 13 boards for a single CPU generation was a lot, just imagine if the rumors about more 300-series chipsets are true.
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