MSI Z87M MATX Gaming Motherboard Review
Naming conventions are largely a matter of marketing. PCs used to, and in the large high-street chains still do, belong to the category of home office/good for homework options and the infinitely more expensive "gaming" system. If your PC was good enough for gaming then it inspired a certain awe amongst the populace. Anyone can own a PC, but a gaming PC is something to covet. This means that companies were quick to leap on the gaming bandwagon as a product labelled ready for gaming would neatly fill that demand. One only needs to look at the Republic Of Gamers brand to understand this, as it's actually designed more for overclocking. Perhaps RoO reminded people too much of marsupials.
All that preamble brings us neatly to the MSI Z87M Gaming, a motherboard that utterly deserves that gaming moniker.
Looks are always subjective, and whilst we appreciate the gradual shift to stealthier motherboards that free up your colour options and design choices, the MSI Gaming is unflinchingly branded with the MSI Dragon theme and the black and red that has proven itself to stand the test of time. Coming in at a barely believable £140 the Z87M Gaming looks the part with gorgeous heatsinks and plenty of features to connect all your modern devices.
Performance in pure overclocking/CPU terms is fantastic, with an easy 4.9GHz stable at a very reasonable 1.25v. This is up there with all but the most extreme performance 'boards we've tested, and it's particularly nice to see that the performance backs it up. Sometimes you can have a big clock speed but the results don't really attest to it, whereas with the Z87M Gaming the results are great in both stock trim and with our manual overclock in place.
The absolute highlight though has to be the 3D performance, hence our belief that the 'Gaming' suffix has rarely been more aptly applicable. In every test the MSI Z87M Gaming consistently gave us eye-opening results. Often the stock result was better than many overclocked ones we've seen, and the overclocked ones were at the top of nearly every single chart. And we don't mean a point or two, we mean a substantial margin. It's fantastic.
When a motherboard comes in at £140 and happily sits at the top of our graphs in nearly every test it makes you appreciate how much you can buy with relatively little these days. A far cry from the 'Gaming PC' days of yore that involved mortgages and selling your gran. The MSI Z87M Gaming is compact, looks gorgeous, very affordable and has performance to burn. In fact we can't think of a single thing we dislike about it. Unhesitating winner of our OC3D Gold Award.