Motherboard Reviews

MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC: Jack of All Trades

« UEFI Overview and Overclocking | System Benchmarks(CPU, Memory, Compression, Multimedia) »

Test System and Testing Procedures

Processor Intel Core i7-4770K (Retail)
CPU Cooler
Noctua NH-D15 with Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound
Power Supply
Enermax Platimax 1000W, Corsair HX850 v2, BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 750W
Memory Patriot Viper 3 “Black Mamba” Low Profile 2x8GB DDR3 Memory 2100 MHz CL11
Storage OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD (OS), OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSD (test drive), Vantec NexStar (USB 3.0 enclosure).
Graphics Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce OC
Drivers v1.5 BIOS, Intel Chipset Driver 10.0.3, NVIDIA 335.23 WHQL drivers.
Motherboards MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC, MSI Z97 Gaming 7, MSI Z97 Mpower MAX AC, ASUS Z97-A, Gigabyte Z97-D3H
Router Cisco E3200 stock firmware with 2x 6ft Cat5E cables for network testing
Operating System Windows 7 x64 Ultimate SP-1 with latest patches and updates

Latest working BIOS, updates and drivers were used at the time of the review. Each test was conducted at least three times for accuracy. UEFI defaults are loaded for stock settings and XMP profile is loaded. Overclock results are for showing standardized 4.5GHz result with 1.28Vcore manual override on the exact same i7-4770K. If the Z97 motherboard being reviewed is incapable of running that overclock stable, it is considered unworthy of minimum requirements for overclocking in this platform. If the motherboard does not load the XMP profile values correctly for the overclock testing, values will be manually set to keep it standard across the board.

For subjective listening tests, the following devices were used:

  • Sony MDR-V6 (Mainstream Studio monitor headphone)
  • Sony MDR-XD100 (Standard budget headphone)
  • Logitech X-530 (5.1 Gaming audio speakers)

System Benchmarks

  • wPrime 1.55 32M
  • Aida64 Engineer 4.30.2900
  • CineBench R15
  • PCMark 8 v2.0.228
  • WinRAR 5.01
  • Handbrake 0.9.9
  • x264 FHD 1.0.1

Subsystem Testing

  • CrystalDisk Mark for SATA and USB tests
  • DPC Latency
  • Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.4.0
  • Passmark Performance Test 8.0 – Network Speed Graph
  • JPerf 2.0.2
  • LAN Speed Test 3.4

Gaming Benchmarks

  • 3DMark11 v1.0.132 – Performance and Extreme Preset
  • 3DMark (Firestrike test) v1.2.362 – Default Preset
  • Tomb Raider – Built-in Benchmark, Low preset on 800×600
  • Bioshock Infinite – Built-in Benchmark, Low preset on 640×480
  • Sleeping Dogs – Built-in Benchmark, Low preset on 640×480


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Ron Perillo

Ron is a non-binary tech writer that presently identifies as a reviewer but is currently transitioning toward modding.

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