MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC Review
Published: 19th April 2018 | Source: MSI | Price: |
The packaging for the X470 Gaming M7 is the first thing that grabs you. Usually MSI packaging goes one of three ways. We have the product on a plain background, an entirely minimalist "name only" box, or something that leans heavily upon the dragon iconography. With the M7 it dispenses with the plain background to go entirely with a redshifted starfield. Considering that redshift is to do with stars moving away from our observation point as the universe expands, we think it's either an extremely subtle marketing ploy about futurism or a nice coincidence.
As befits a flagship motherboard the M7 comes with a whole range of accessories to keep you excitedly opening packets whilst summoning up the courage/finding the time to build your new system. Unlike the Crosshair and Aorus the MSI offering retains a separate IO shield. Naturally there isn't really a benefit to either solution, but we find that the built-in IO shield always looks slightly classier. At least we've come a long way from the days when shields were guaranteed to cut your fingertips to ribbons.
If the Crosshair VII Hero is all about the sharp modern lines and the Gigabyte is dominated by the fin density and lighting, then we think the first thing most people will spot when looking at the Gaming M7 is the M.2 heatsink. It absolutely bestrides the PCB like a Colossus. It's not that we haven't seen chipset heatsinks or M.2 heatspreaders before, just that blending them together into a giant backwards C somehow makes it more noticeable.
The CPU end of the M7 shows how much attention MSI have paid to keeping the MOSFETs cool, whilst also having a slightly curious placement of the fan headers. Usually they are bunched together for the CPU and Pump, but here they are all at reasonable intervals rather than a cluster. Good luck to those of you who like your cables carefully hidden, especially as you can't even group the various CPU ones together. Fortunately the top heatsink has enough spaces you can run them vertically off the motherboard, but it's hardly ideal.
We could say that this is a close up look at the M.2 heatspreader, but it's large enough we don't need to zoom and enhance. You can see that the MSI Audio Boost is on a separate PCB trace to eliminate electronic interference. If you think that doing that is a gimmick, remember that before manufacturers split the sound section off onboard sound was almost useless, whereas now it's so good that soundcards are an endangered breed. So don't be too quick to mock.