Last month we reviewed the MSI Z87M Gaming, MSI's Micro ATX gaming motherboard for Intel Haswell processors. MSI seems to like the smaller form factor, because they also released the Z87I Gaming AC, a Mini ITX board. Today we take a closer look at that one.
In 2009 ASUS was the first to release a Micro ATX board that boasted ATX-like features, with the first Republic of Gamers Gene motherboards. It was a new concept at the time, but it made a lot of sense. Except for the graphics card, all other components you previously needed expansion cards for were now integrated in the motherboard. That meant people didn't need more than the three or four expansion slots.
With the Maximus VI Impact that came out a few months ago ASUS took it a step further by introducing the first Mini ITX board aimed at overclockers. The timing seems perfect, with numerous new Mini ITX desktop chassis appearing on the market. With a board like the Maximus VI Impact you can create a system as powerful as a full-size desktop.
MSI now follows the example of ASUS and has come out with a Mini ITX board with lots of extra features. The Z87I Gaming AC is also based on Intel's Z87 chipset and compatible with Intel's fourth generation Core processors called Haswell. The Z87I Gaming is obviously aimed at gamers primarily and has a number of gaming-oriented features.
Priced at around £135 (€160), the Z87I Gaming AC is a little more expensive than the Z87M Gaming and Z87 Gaming-G45, but significantly cheaper than the ASUS Maximus VI Impact.