Review and Testing of the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Motherboard

Except for the deficit of new Intel processors of the Coffee Lake family at the start of sales, in general, the release of six-core models can be considered successful. They confidently compete with AMD Ryzen for performance, more economical in terms of power consumption and easier to overclock. Of course, the flywheel for overclockers was the thermal paste on the chip of the processors instead of the solder, but also with this problem, enthusiasts who are not afraid of losing the warranty are excellent at coping . Therefore, it is not surprising that along with the advent of these processors, the leading companies presented a lot of various motherboards for them.

For example, well-known to our readers, MSI has already announced 13 (!) Models on the Intel Z370 chipset. The flagship is a board with a "modest" name [God'sGaming] more than 400 US dollars, and the simplest and most affordable Z370 PC Pro with a price of about $ 120. We will now get acquainted with the mid-level card MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC .

# T Technical characteristics and cost

MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC
Supported processors Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron
processors in the LGA1151v2 version of the eighth generation of the microarchitecture Core
Chipset Intel Z370 Express
The memory subsystem 4 × DIMM DDR4 unbuffered memory up to 64 GB;
two-channel memory operation mode;
support for 4000 (OC) / 3866 (OC) / 3733 (OC) / 3600 (OC) / 3466 (OC) /
3400 (OC) / 3333 (OC) / 3300 (OC) / 3200 (OC) / 3000 (OC) / 2800 (OC) / 2667/2400/2133 MHz;
support for Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile)
The graphical user interface The integrated graphics core of the processor allows to use the HDMI version port (4096 × 2160 resolutions at 30 Hz, 2560 × 1600 at 60 Hz) and the DisplayPort version port (resolutions of 4096 × 2304 at 24 Hz, 3840 × 2160 at 60 Hz and 1920 × 1200 at 60 Hz);
the possibility of simultaneous connection of two displays
Connectors for expansion cards 3 PCI Express x16 3.0 slots, operating modes x16, x8 / x8, x8 / x8 / x4, x16 / x0 / x4;
3 slots PCI Express x1, Gen 3
Scalability of the video subsystem NVIDIA 2-way SLI Technology;
AMD 2-way / 3-way CrossFireX Technology
Drive Interfaces Chipset Intel Z370 Express:
– 6 × SATA 3, bandwidth up to 6 Gbit / s;
– support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10, Intel Rapid Storage, Intel Smart Connect Technology and Intel Smart Response, NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug;
– 2 × M.2, bandwidth of each up to 32 Gb / s (M.2_1 supports SATA- and PCI-Express drives with a length of 42 to 110 mm, M.2_2 supports SATA- and PCI-Express drives from 42 to 80 mm);
– support for Intel Optane Memory technology
Gigabit LAN controller Intel Gigabit LAN I219V (10/100/1000 Mbps);
support for LAN Protect
Wireless Network Interfaces Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 controller;
support for Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, dual-band operation (2.4 GHz / 5.0 GHz) at speeds up to 867 Mbps;
support for dual-band Bluetooth 2.1, 2.1 + EDR, 3.0, 4.0, BLE, 4.2
Audio Subsystem 7.1-channel HD audio codec Realtek ALC1220;
technology Audio Boost 4;
sound condensers Chemi-Con;
the amplifier for ear-phones;
Nahimic Sound 2+ technology support;
a sound card isolated from the PCB;
the left and right channels are bred in different layers of textolite;
gold-plated audio connectors
The interface of the USB Intel Z370 Express Chipset:
– 8 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (4 on the rear panel, 4 connected to the connectors on the system board);
– 6 USB 2.0 ports (2 on the rear panel, 4 connected to the connectors on the system board);
Controller ASMedia ASM3142:
– 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (both on the rear panel of the board, Type-C and Type-A)
Connectors and buttons on the rear panel 2 USB 2.0 ports and a combined PS / 2 port;
DisplayPort and HDMI ports;
2 USB ports 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C and Type-A;
4 USB ports 3.1 Gen 1;
LAN socket RJ-45;
S / PDIF optical output;
5 3.5-mm gold-plated audio connectors
Internal connectors on the motherboard 24-pin ATX power connector;
8-pin ATX 12V power connector;
6 SATA 3;
2 M.2;
4-pin connector for CPU fan with PWM support;
4-pin connector for the pump;
4 4-pin connectors for case fans with PWM support;
2 USB 2.0 connectors for connection of 4 ports;
2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 connectors for connecting 4 ports;
2 5050 RGB LED connectors;
WS2812B connector for external backlight tape;
CORSAIR connector for external backlight tape;
a group of connectors for the front panel;
audio connector for the front panel;
TPM connector (Trusted Platform Module);
Connector Chassis Intrusion; Clear CMOS jumper
BIOS 128 Mbit AMI UEFI BIOS with a multilanguage interface and a graphical shell;
compatibility with ACPI 6.0;
support for SM BIOS 3.0
Controller of the I / O Nuvoton NCT6795D-M
Brand functions, technologies and features Mystic Light;
Mystic Light Extension (RGB);
Mystic Light SYNC;
EZ Debug LED;
Mystic Light Extension (RAINBOW);
Corsair Extension;
M.2 Shield;
PCI-E Steel Armor;
DDR4 Boost;
Lightning USB;
Military Class 5;
Click BIOS 5;
VR Ready
The form factor, dimensions (mm) ATX, 304 × 243
The warranty of the manufacturer years 3
The minimum retail value, rubles 14,650

Packaging and equipment

The box, in which the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is supplied, is made of compact cardboard and is designed relatively strictly. On its front side there are no bright photos or shortcuts, only a glimpse of the illuminated casing lightens the dark surface of the box a little.

On the reverse side, features of the board are marked and briefly tells about each of them. Below are the main product characteristics and outputs. The same, only in a very abbreviated form, can be found on the label from the end of the box.

The board obviously does not belong to the budget class, so we were surprised by the presence of only two SATA cables in its bundle, instead of the usual four. Especially since the rest of the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is included, including a wireless module with two antennas and a rigid connecting bridge for SLI.

Of course, there is also an instruction manual, a disk with drivers and utilities, as well as a set of stickers for SATA cables.

The board is manufactured in China, and it is provided with a three-year warranty. The cost of MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC in Russian stores starts at 14.5 thousand rubles, and in foreign it can be found for 11.5 thousand rubles or even cheaper.

Design and features

MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC looks great! She does not repel an inappropriate pretentiousness, but she does not make her bored with too deliberate austerity. The harmonious combination of stylish lines of casings and radiators with diagonally colored white strips of textolite and attracts the eye.

A special charm of the motherboard is attached to the insert "under the carbon" on the radiator of the chipset and the cover of the interface panel.

We add that the board sizes are 304 × 243 mm, that is, it refers to the standard form factor ATX.

Next we will give a diagram and a table with the arrangement of the key board elements from the operating instructions .

The rear panel of the board includes a combined PS / 2 port, eight USB ports, including two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C and Type-A), DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs, RJ-45 LAN outlet, optical output S / PDIF-interface and five 3.5-mm gold-plated audio connectors.

As you can see, there is quite a lot of free space left, and you could add at least a couple more USB ports.

Excellent looks MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and without plastic cover and radiators.

The LGA1151v2 processor socket has no unique features here.

The board supports all processors of Intel family Coffee Lake from Core i3-8100 to Core i7-8700K. Interestingly, this support comes immediately from the first version of the BIOS, which at the time of the article was the only one.

The processor power system, built within the framework of the Military Class 5 concept, consists of four dual phases. Each assembly uses titanium core coils, Dark CAP capacitors with at least ten years of service life and low series resistance, as well as energy-efficient Dark Choke coils.

Another phase (also doubled) is allocated to the integrated graphics core of the processor (VccGT).

The processor is powered by the controller uP9508Q manufactured by uPI Semiconductor.

Board power is provided by two standard connectors with 24 and 8 contacts.

Of the features of the Intel Z370 Express chipset on the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC, we can only note that its crystal contacts the heat sink not through the thermal padding but through the thermal paste, which should provide more efficient heat transfer and, as a consequence, lower temperatures. However, this chipset is practically not heated.

The board supports proprietary technology DDR4 Boost, consisting in the optimal dilution of the connecting tracks in the "body" textolite, which allows you to achieve a cleaner signal and a more stable memory frequency. The slots are protected by the steel armor Steel Armor, and the maximum memory capacity can reach 64 GB.

The dual-channel memory controller on the board is assembled from the same components that are used in the processor power circuit. Bottom of the power connector is the EZ Debug LED diagnostic indicator.

The board features support for memory with frequencies from 2133 to 4000 MHz and is cited a voluminous list of supported modules. Nevertheless, if your memory is not on this list, it does not mean that it does not work on this board. Moreover, the BIOS of the motherboard provides memory frequencies up to 5000 MHz.

The PCI-Express slots of the heroine of today's testing are six, and two of them received the steel armor of Steel Armor, as well as additional proppants on the reverse side of the textolite. According to the manufacturer, such slots are four times stronger than conventional plastic connectors with standard soldering.

On the board, you can create tandems from two video cards with AMD or NVIDIA GPU, which will work in the x8 / x8 mode. You can combine three video cards, but only if they are on AMD graphics processors and you will not be confused by the x8 / x8 / x4 formula. For switching slots, the irreplaceable chips ASM1480 produced by ASMedia Technology meet.

All six SATA III ports on the MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC are implemented by the capabilities of the Intel Z370 chipset. It is noteworthy that four ports are installed in the classical horizontal orientation, and two more are installed in the vertical.

In principle, the option is quite convenient, when it is necessary to connect the L-shaped cables to the vertical ports and immediately take them away from the motherboard tray in the case of the system unit. Let's add that SATA-ports support a set of technologies standard for this set of system logic.

There are also two high-speed M.2 ports with a bandwidth of up to 32 Gb / s for SSD-modules running on the NVMe protocol. Both ports support both PCI Express and SATA drives, and the differences consist in the maximum length of the drives being installed: the upper connector, additionally cooled by a metal plate, will include an SSD with a length of 42 to 110 mm, and in the usual lower – only up to 80 mm.

Since there are no additional controllers on the board, there are restrictions on the simultaneous use of SATA and M.2 ports. They are shown in the diagram below.

We add that with the help of the utility MSI M.2 GENIE from the two drives installed in ports M.2 of PCI Express format can create RAID arrays of levels 0 and 1.

About USB ports: here is a standard set of ports implemented by the Intel Z370 chipset and ASM3142 controller.

The first provides operation of 14 ports, of which 8 are USB 3.1 Gen 1 and 6 are USB 2.0. On the textolite there are four ports of both types, and the rest are displayed on the back panel.

The second controller serves two "overclocked" up to 10 Gb / s USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-C and Type-A), also located on the rear panel. Contacts inside these ports are gilded.

Wired network controller on board one – Gigabit Intel I219V with hardware protection LAN Protect.

Using the MSI GAMING LAN Manager application, you can optimize the driver in either manual or automatic mode, giving priority to the most relevant application at the moment. There is a MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and a wireless network controller Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 with support for Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac and Bluetooth 4.2, as well as the ability to work in two bands 2.4 / 5.0 GHz. The maximum claimed data transfer rate can reach 867 Mbit / s.

The audio system on the board is called Audio Boost 4, but it is based on the 7.1-channel HD audio codec Realtek ALC1220, shielded with a cap, which is the most popular for embedded sound

A set of hardware optimizations for the audio track includes the sound condensers Chemi-Con, headphone amplifier, various layers of textolite for the left and right channels, a sound card isolated from the PCB, and gold-plated audio connectors.

Software sound optimizations are assigned to the technology Nahimic Sound 2+ .

The Nuvoton NCT6795D-M controller provides the combined PS / 2 port, fan monitoring and control functions.

The MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC can simultaneously control six fans by PWM signal or voltage. The speed of each of the connected fans is configured either through the BIOS or through the Control Center application. One connector has an increased current up to 2A and can provide power to the power-hungry pumps of liquid-cooling systems.

You know what goes first right after the circuit in the description of the motherboard on the official website? Not a description of the processor power scheme or high-speed interfaces, and even not supported memory frequencies or "pumped" sound. The first is backlighting. It is she, according to MSI, should become the most important component when choosing a motherboard.

In addition to supporting external RGB tapes, the backlight can now be adjusted to 17 modes!

Guys, honestly, – it would be better if you with the same zeal extended and strengthened the power phases of the processor, the radiators on them, or at least some ports. Pampering is all this, and already begins to some extent annoying. They made the highlight, realized the possibility of expanding it with an external tape – and that's enough. Why give it so much attention and resources? Concentrate on other areas, please.

Among the connectors on the bottom edge of the textolite there is a DEMOLED1 button with a jumper JSEL1, with which you can change the color of the backlight and its modes.

But there is no indicator for POST-codes, it's a minus.

The elements of the processor power circuit have heavy aluminum radiators with thermal pads, combined with a plastic casing, although without it it would be even better. The radiator of the chipset is more decorative, and even with a backlight, but for a cool crystal, the Intel Z370 is no longer required.

Как мы уже упоминали выше, для накопителя в первом слоте M.2 также есть пластина-радиатор с термопрокладкой M.2 Shield.

Если вы заметили ошибку — выделите ее мышью и нажмите CTRL+ENTER.

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