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MSI Goes Mini! Z87I Gaming and GTX 760 Mini ITX Gaming Review!

MSI Goes Mini! Z87I Gaming and GTX 760 Mini ITX Gaming Review!

Overview of the MSI Z87I Gaming and GTX 760 Gaming Mini

MSI Z87I Gaming

MSI Z87I Gaming1 MSI Z87I Gaming2

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The packaging is similar to the other Gaming based or dragon boards we have seen on the Z87 series of boards. On teh front it carries the standard badging although it does have some extra notation about the WiFi AC compatibility.

The rear of the box shows key feature info along with compliance and other info, but this is just a box so lets see what comes inside.

 

MSI Z87I Gaming3 MSI Z87I Gaming4

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Here we see all of the accessories we get with the MSI Z87 Gaming:
  • User Manuals
  • Installation Discs
  • SATA Cables
  • WiFi Antennae
  • IO Shield
  • MSI Gaming shield Case Badge Decal
  • MSI Gaming Door Hanger

This bundle handles the connectivity portion although I do think that only two SATA cables was a bit lacking, but otherwise I think these accessories is plenty.

MSI Z87I Gaming5

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Here we have the board and you can see that being Mini ITX placement gets a bit interesting. The 8 Pin is mid board near the VRM sink which is nice for VRM power delivery but not ideal for cable management or routing. Do note like any ITX board space is super tight and therefore only dual DIMM slots and a single PCIe are in place along with 5x available SATA ports on the PCB itself with the 6th being on the IO. 

 

MSI Z87I Gaming7

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The memory layout is a dual slot design with capabilities of up to 16GB, possibly 32GB if 16GB DIMMs are supported, but I have yet to get any to validate this. The speeds are claimed to supprt in excess of 3GHz pending you have an IMC and DIMMs capable of these speeds. 
 

 

MSI Z87I Gaming6

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The rear IO is quite stuffed with many connectivity options:
  • PS2 combo keyboard/mouse port
  • 2x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Clear CMOS Button
  • Optical SPDIF connectors
  • 4x USB 3.0 ports
  • Gigabit LAN port (Killer E2205)
  • eSATA Port
  • Displayport connector
  • HDMI Port
  • up to 7.1 Channel HD audio via Realtek ALC1150

The connectivity for a mini board is very good as it has a huge amount of high speed connectivity to ensure no matter the usage it is ready.

 

MSI Z87I Gaming10MSI Z87I Gaming8 

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The included Intel WiFi AC card is laying down in its slot parallel to the PCB itself allowing for coolers to fit over it without much issue. This card allows not only the super fast WiFi AC connectivity but also Intel WiDi wireless display function.

the Audio boost cover is not backlit like previous versions we had seen as its simply a small cover probably for ESD protection. Instead the logo is painted on in red to match the overall theme of Gaming boards from MSI.

 

MSI Z87I Gaming9 MSI Z87I Gaming11

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The MSI ITX Gaming board employs once again the dragon design PCH cover along with the dragon design VRM coolers to keep things under control as far as thermals are concerned. The VRM and PCH sink are connected via a heatpipe, which allows both to stay cool even if covered by a larger cooler.
The VRM utilizes military class components to ensure the upmost stability and performance capability even under teh toughest loading environments.
 

GTX 760 Mini

 

MSI GTX 760 Gaming1 MSI GTX 760 Gaming2

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The Gaming series cards carry a theme of the dragon with crest and of course the card name. This one being the Mini ITX Version of the GTX 760, which as its name says shares size limitations to fit even the tightest Mini ITX chassis enclosures.

The rear like others we have seen carries in depth spec details for the Mini ITX 760 along with a image showing the card design.

 

MSI GTX 760 Gaming3

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Here is what comes in the package which is admittedly pretty basic with a 6 pin to 8 pin PCIe adapter a DVI > HDMI adapter and the usermanual and install disc to round things out.

Overall we would recommend using a PSU that has at least a single 8 pin or 6+2 PCIe power connector to ensure correct support for the card as most any present PSU offers this.

MSI GTX 760 Gaming4 MSI GTX 760 Gaming5

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The card seen here is very small with the fan at its front taking up over 60% of the card surface area. The front is black with Red stripes and mostly matte with a glossy finish on the Dragon logo of the front shell.

The rear of the card is covered with a backplate  with select cutouts for taller components or pass through legs of components from the other side.

 

MSI GTX 760 Gaming6

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The display connectivity is a bit different than we have seen on other Kepler based cards

  • 1x DVI
  • 1x HDMI
  • 2x Mini Displayport

This connector arrangement works quite well as the mini displayport connectors can use adapters to any type of display connection we need. I wish Nvidia would employ such a connection array out of the box as this allows a much larger airflow pass through for cooling purposes.

MSI GTX 760 Gaming11 MSI GTX 760 Gaming10

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The Mini ITX 760 from MSI uses a single 8 Pin PCIe power connection to power the card which is seated on a custom made PCB from MSI.

The Dual SLI fingers are in place ready to run up to a 3 Way SLI configuration if you could or wanted to use such a configuration although this being a Mini ITX card means it was made to fit in the smaller builds which support only a single card. However with builds shrinking as a whole or maybe just for a custom look you could run three of these for a pretty powerful compact gamer.

 

MSI GTX 760 Gaming12 MSI GTX 760 Gaming13 MSI GTX 760 Gaming14

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Popping the cooler from the card shows us everything this Mini ITX model has to push. the VRM using SFC chokes and Military class components to ensure strong and stable power delivery is available under heavy graphics loading.

the cooler backplate has integrated heatpads to allow the backplate to work as a heatsink for the rear mounted memory ICs

 

MSI GTX 760 Gaming15 MSI GTX 760 Gaming16 MSI GTX 760 Gaming17

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The cooler itself has spots for extra memory IC’s should they want to build a 4GB model which I think would be really cool for surround or very high res gameplay.

Here you see the VRM components comprised of military class components for a super strong VRM solution.

The memory employed on the Mini ITX GTX 760 model are Elpida W2032BBBG which are spec’d for up to 6Gbps operation and thats exactly where the card is clocked at well actually 6008MHz to be exact.

Introduction - MSI Z87I Gaming and GTX 760 Gaming Mini MSI's gaming line has now seen a few entries for board and GPU models and this set I have to say is extremely interesting as these models are made for the very popular mini PC builds which are becoming very popular. Mini ITX systems are growing greatly in popularity as smaller systems become much more powerful and solutions like this are very interesting as it specially builds specific targeted models based around a small sized build. starting with a Z87 board with gaming feature sets and…

Review Overview

Performance - 9
Value - 9
Quality - 9
Features - 9.5
Innovation - 9

9.1

Summary : MSI stepped into the Mini ITX game ready to run with both a capable motherboard with good feature set and even a mini card to ensure you have the whole package.

9

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