MSI Z370 GAMING pro CARBON AC
MSI’S Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is the most affordable board of the lot at just $349. It’s worth mentioning that MSI does have higher-end Z370 boards available, but we weren’t able to secure one for this shootout.
That said, the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC is more a mid-range board with a focus on aesthetics. There are literally lights everywhere, with LEDS built into the VRM and PCH heatsinks, under the board, and an LED light trail that traces the path of the audio circuitry.
What’s more, the board features a total of four RGB headers, including two that support individually addressable LEDS. One of the latter was also designed specifically for Corsair LED strips, part of an MSI and Corsair collaboration.
There’s also a dedicated fan header for use with Corsair’s Hydro series coolers and their Corsair Link feature. While MSI’S decision to focus on Corsair hardware can be questioned, as it shoehorns users into picking a single brand. However, at least it ensures the pairing will work, especially if you’re already a Corsair fan.
Still, MSI has done a great job of cramming as much value as it can into what is a very attractive package. For instance, the onboard Wi-fi is a nice touch, as some of the pricier boards don’t have this. It’s also equipped with plenty of USB ports on the back, including USB 3.1 (Gen 2) Type-c and Type-a ports, four USB 3.1 (Gen 1), and two USB 2.0 ports.
Storage expansion options are also on par with the competition, and you get metal-reinforced PCIE and DIMM slots and an M.2 heatsink as well.
Having said that, the Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC isn’t the best board for enthusiasts. Like the Asrock board, there are no power or reset buttons, and it’s also missing a debug LED display. There isn’t a USB 3.1 (Gen 2) front panel connector either, so you’re out of luck if your case supports this.
Furthermore, overclocking performance is decent, but it isn’t quite as good as what ASUS and Gigabyte offer. Overall, this is a good board for the mass market and those who can’t get enough of RGB LEDS, but not hardcore enthusiasts.