MSI Z170A Gaming M9 ACK Motherboard Review: Sharp Dressed, Feature Packed
Z170A Gaming M9 ACK Test Setup & PCMark 8
Test System Configuration Notes: When configuring our test system for this article, we first updated the BIOS and set the board to its default settings. Once we were sure all settings were at their stock values, we saved them, re-entered the BIOS and ensured the memory speed was set to DDR4-2133 (its maximum, officially supported speed) for stock tests and DDR4-2666 for the overclocked tests, which matches the memory speed used on motherboards we've tested previously.
Our test rig is powered by an Intel Core i7-6700K Skylake quad-core CPU, Corsair H100 AIO water cooler, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 2666MHz memory, a 1300W CoolerMaster PSU, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 GPU and a Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD.
Once the Windows 10 installation was complete, we fully updated the OS, and installed the drivers necessary for our components. We then installed all of our benchmarking software, performed a disk clean-up, cleared any old prefetch and temp data, and ran the tests. The system was restarted and allowed to hit an idle state when necessary before initiating any tests.
Futuremark's PCMark 8 is the latest version of the PCMark whole-system benchmarking suite. It has updated application performance measurements targeted for a Windows 8 environment and uses newer metrics to gauge relative performance. Below is what Futuremark says is incorporated into the base PCMark suite and the Home, Creativity, and Work suites--the three modules we have benchmark scores for you here.
The Home test includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user. These workloads have low computational requirements making PCMark 8 Home suitable for testing the performance of low-cost tablets, notebooks and desktops. Home includes workloads for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for your system.
The Creativity test includes workloads typical of enthusiasts and professionals who work with media and entertainment content. With more demanding requirements than the Home benchmark, this benchmark is suitable for mid-range computer systems. PCMark 8 Creative includes web browsing, photo editing, video editing, group video chat, media transcoding, and gaming workloads.
The Work test measures your system's ability to perform basic office work tasks, such as writing documents, browsing websites, creating spreadsheets and using video chat. The Work benchmark is suitable for measuring the performance of typical office PC systems that lack media capabilities. The results from each workload are combined to give an overall PCMark 8 Work score for your system.
The Gaming M8 ACK motherboard performed in lock-step with the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1 motherboard in these tests. While the featured MSI board does pull ahead of the Gaming G1 by a bit, it falls short of the Asus ROG Maximus VIII Extreme and the budget Z170-UD5 motherboard from Gigabyte.