Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of MSI
- Supports 6th Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1151 socket
- Supports DDR4-3600+(OC) Memory
- OC DASHBOARD: Experience easier on-the-fly overclocking under the most extreme condition.
- DDR4 Boost: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
- USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection
- Twin Turbo M.2 64Gb/s + Turbo U.2 ready + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A + SATA 6Gb/s
- GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel®: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency
- Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
- Nahimic Audio Enhancer: Immersive sound quality that pushes the limits of reality
- Game Boost: This one goes up to eleven; 8 levels of easy overclocking
- GAMING Hotkey: Assign macros, launch your favorite games or do real-time overclocking using a single button
- Designed for overclocking: with OC Essentials and OC Engine 2
- XSplit Gamecaster v2.5: 1 year free premium license to show off your skills and achievements to the world
- SteelSeries Certified: Optimized for SteelSeries gaming gear
- Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
- MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
- Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
- BIOS Flashback+: Easy BIOS recovery without the need of a CPU, memory and VGA card
- GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game testing by eSports players for the best gaming experience
The MSI Z170A-XPower Gaming Ti motherboard features a silver with black colored ports and black and whit heat sinks, making for a unique look that would fit into almost any design aesthetic. The audio PCB divider line glows red when the board is powered, blending in well with the board's color scheme. The integrated components on the board are well placed with more than adequate room around components.
Aside from a sprinkling of capacitors and small chips to the upper left of the CPU socket area, the back of the board does not have many components to worry about. Further, the area directly behind the CPU socket is devoid of any components that could crushed or contact the CPU cooler back plate.
The Z170A-XPower Gaming Ti motherboard features the following ports integrated into its rear panel assembly: a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, three USB 2.0 ports (black colored), four USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1 ports (red colored port above HMDI video port and below GigE port), two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (red colored ports to left of audio ports), one RJ-45 port tied to the Intel I219-V controller, two HDMI 2.0 video ports, a DisplayPort video port, a CMOS reset button, an optical audio port, and five analogue audio ports. The USB 2.0 port to the right of the CMOS Reset button can be used with the BIOS Flashback+ functionality to flash the board's BIOS.
The BIOS Flashback+ functionality can be used automatically to re-flash the BIOS without having to boot the system into the UEFI interface. Simply plug in a USB drive containing the proper BIOS file in the root of the drive into the USB 2.0 port to the right of the CMOS Reset button and and initiate the BIOS Flashback+ utility by pressing the BIOS Flashback+ button on the motherboard or by keying in the BIOS Flashback+ hotkey. Note that to use the hotkey function, the switch labeled HOTKEY1 on the board must be set to position 1. To use the hotkey, you key in the CTRL+Backspace key sequence and then the PrtScr+F4 key sequence. Once BIOS flashing commences, the BIOS Flachback+ LED will begin to flash. BIOS flashing completes once the LED stops flashing and remains off. The BIOS Flashback+ LED is located to the lower left of the DIMM slots, next to the BIOS Flashback+ button. According to the user manual, the BIOS file in the root of the flash drive must be named MSI.ROM for the BIOS Flashback+ applet to successfully re-flash the board's BIOS.
The Z170A-XPower Gaming Ti motherboard has a total of seven PCI-Express device ports – four PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1 slots. For the PCIe x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x8 / x8 bandwidth with cards populating the first and third slots, x8 / x4 / x4 bandwidth with cards populating the first three PCIe x16 slots, and x4 bandwidth with cards populating all PCIe x16 slots. MSI reinforced the primary and tertiary PCIe x16 slots with steel overlays for strength and added stability when using the board with overly large video cards. The CMOS battery, CMOS reset jumper, and chassis intrusion header are located below the secondary PCIe x1 slot. The CMOS reset jumper is the header farthest from PCIe x16 slot 3.
Just below the primary and tertiary PCIe x1 slots are dual PCIe x4 capable M.2 slots. The board supports M.2 PCIe SSDs up to 80mm in length. The M.2 slot below the primary PCIe x1 slot shares bandwidth with SATA port 5 / 6 and the one below the tertiary slot shares bandwidth with SATA ports 1 / 2. Note that the SATA ports that share bandwidth are disabled when using M.2-based SSDs in the M.2 slots.
As is common in high-end board implementation, MSI designed the audio subsystem on a separate PCB to ensure audio clarity and fidelity. The PCB separator line glows red along its length with the board powered, making for a nice effect with the board's color scheme. The Realtek audio chipset is capped with a black and red-accented cap located in the upper left corner of the board for signal shielding purposes. The dual headphone amplifier chips work in conjunction with headphones or speakers attached to the middle right input port in the rear panel. The front panel audio header is located the upper left corner of the audio PCB, to the left of the audio chipset.
In the upper left quadrant of the board (and along the outer edge of the fourth PCIe x16 slot) are the front panel audio header, a system fan header, the 2-digit debug LED, the PCIe CeaseFire and BIOS Flashback+ switches. The headers labeled JLN1 and JUF1 are MSI debug headers used for internal board validation purposes. The diagnostic LED display can be used in conjunction with the table provided in the user manual to identify and troubleshoot board boot-related issues. The PCIe CeaseFire switch can be used to enable or disable the primary, secondary, or tertiary PCIe x16 slots.
The onboard USB 2.0 headers and a system fan header are located to the lower left of PCIe x16 slot 4.
In the lower left corner of the board are the front panel headers (JFP1 and JFP2), the Multi-BIOS switch, the power and reset button, and the Game Boost knob. The unlabeled headers to the right of the JFP1 header are debug headers used by MSI for board validation. The Multi-BIOS switch switch is used to switch between the primary and backup BIOS. With the switch set to the up/left position (default), the main BIOS is active. In the down/right position, the backup BIOS is activated. The Game Boost knob controls predefined, UEFI-controlled overclocking profiles arranged in a step-wise manner from 0 to 11 with 0 disabling the functionality and 11 containing the most aggressive overclocking parameters. The knob functions only if the Game Boost function is set to hardware in the board's UEFI. The state of the Game Boost functionality can be determined by the Game Boost LEDS to the lower left of the Game Boost knob. The green LED illuminates with Game Boost in software mode, while the red LED illuminates with Game Boost in hardware mode. Note that the system must be power off to change the Game Boost setting using the knob.
MSI cooled the board's Intel Z170 Express chipset with large low-profile heat sink white colored and emblazoned with their Dragon Gaming logo.
The Z170A-XPower Gaming Ti motherboard comes standard with a total of four SATA 6 Gb/s ports and two SATA-Express 10 Gb/s ports. To the right of the SATA-Express port block is a USB 3.0 header placed so that the cable sits paralel to the plane of the board when plugged in. All drive ports and the USB 3.0 header are located directly under the chipset. The SATA-Express ports house two SATA 6 Gb/s ports each that can be used as stand alone ports as well, adding an additional four SATA 6 Gb/s ports to the board. All SATA and SATA-Express ports are controlled by the Intel Z170 chipset. SATA ports 5 / 6 (located to the left of the SATA-Express port block) share bandwidth with the M.2 slot below the primary PCIe x1 slot. The lower SATA-Express port (SATA ports 1 / 2) share bandwidth with the M.2 slot below the tertiary PCIe x1 slot. Note that the mentioned SATA ports are disabled by the BIOS when using M.2-based SSDs in the their bandwidth sharing M.2 slots.
The on-board DDR4 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right section of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules with slots 2 and 4 being the primary memory slots. The board supports up to 64GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3600MHz. Note that memory speeds above 2133MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. Directly below the memory port block are a USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1 port, the 24-pin ATX power connector, the OC Dashboard device header, and the V-Check voltage measurement points. The OC Dashboard header can be used to host the external OC Dashboard device, allowing for user board control and overclocking via the external PCB. The V-Check voltage measurement points allow for direct board voltage measurement using a volt meter using the included connector cables.
To the right of the DIMM slots are two CPU fan headers and the BIOS Flashback+ button and LED. With the board powered off and a USB dirver connected to the proper USB port in the rear panel assembly with a properly name BIOS file, the BIOS Flashback+ button will initiate a BIOS recovery operation. The board's dual BIOSes are flashed and ready to use once the BIOS Flashback+ LED stops flashing and remains off.
The CPU socket area is clear of obstructions in close proximity to the socket with VRM heat sinks above and to the right of the socket. The Titanium chokes can be seen peeking out from underneath the VRM heat sinks, being part of the board's 16-phase power delivery system.
To the upper left of the CPU are a 6-pin PCIe power connector and a system fan header. A PCIe power cable from the PSU can be attached to PCIe power connector to supply additional power directly to the PCIe x16 slots when using two or more video cards in the system.
MSI includes 8-pin and 4-pin ATX12V power connectors for powering the CPU circuitry to the upper right of the CPU VRM heat sink.