MSI Z270i Gaming Pro Carbon AC
Love them or loathe them Mini-ITX systems are here to stay. And with Intel’s latest Z270 chipset adding additional PCI lanes, expanded USB support, and even more opportunities for motherboard manufacturers to beef up the ITX formfactor, this series should be quite interesting. MSI’s Z270i Gaming Pro Carbon, long name aside, is the perfect partner if you’re building a tiny desktop system. Capable of supporting memory up to 3800MT/s, CPU overclocks nearing 5.2GHz, and a PCIe SSD on the back, its price is more than justified.
However, it isn’t without its flaws. Over the last three generations we’ve seen rear I/O USB port numbers drop from eight to five, and with a single USB 3.0 header for front panel connections, plugging in all of your peripherals is becoming more difficult without an additional hub. That aside, overall performance is well within what I expected, with benchmark variances less than 5% between this and the other boards we currently have in-house, with power draw being nearly 16W lower under load than its higher priced ATX counterparts.