MSI Z97I Gaming AC Review: Small Wonder

Board layout

MSI Z97I Gaming AC 01

The board features a black design interspaced with red for MSI’s Gaming G Series badge. To enhance the aesthetics value, the capacitors are also blacked out. The top section of the board sees the CPU socket, which is in fairly close proximity to the DIMM slots. Installing a large CPU cooler may be a bit of an issue, but then again, considering the small size of the board, that was always going to be a limitation. We were able to install a Corsair H100 liquid cooler without any issues, and the back of the socket offers a lot of space for the cooler’s backplate.

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There is a standard 8-pin power connector for the CPU, which should offer enough headroom should you decide to overclock the processor.

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The Z97I Gaming AC comes with a single PCIe x16 expansion slot, which directly connects to the CPU. In terms of storage, users get a total of four SATA connectors.

On the other side of the board, we see two DIMM slots that can accommodate a maximum of 16 GB (1600 MHz to 3200 MHz) memory.

The board features two fan headers in total, one for the CPU fan and one for an external fan.

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Connectivity on the Z97I Gaming AC includes a Killer E2205 LAN chip, four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA (6 GB/s) ports, audio, PS/2, optical audio along with two HDMI and a DisplayPort.