The MSI Z97M GAMING is compatible with Intel processors with the LGA 1150 socket.
It has 32 GB DDR3 maximum RAM and conforms to the Micro-ATX form factor standard.
|CPU Socket||LGA 1150||Graphics Card Interface||PCIe v3.0|
|CPU Compatible Make||Intel||SLI Support||1 graphics cards|
|CPU Chipset||Z97 Express||Crossfire Support||2 graphics cards|
|Form Factor||Micro-ATX||Onboard GPU||yes|
|Max RAM||32 GB DDR3||PCI Slots|
|RAM Slots||4 x DDR3||SATA 1.0||0|
|Memory Channels||2||SATA 2.0||0|
|Compatible RAM Speeds||SATA 3.0||0|
|USB 2.0 Internal Slots||2||RAID Support||yes|
|USB 2.0 Rear||2||Internal I/O|
|USB 3.0 Internal||1||Back Panel I/O|
|USB 3.0 Rear||6|
The MSI Z97M GAMING uses the Intel LGA 1150 CPU socket. Any compatible Intel CPU will have the same socket entry. It uses the DDR3 memory type, with maximum speeds of up to 2400 MHz, and 4 DDR3 slots allowing for a maximum total of 32 GB RAM.
The Micro-ATX MSI Z97M GAMING should fit into all ATX cases, but its smaller size allows you to downsize your system build as a whole. Its size comes at the cost of features, so there are likely to be far fewer connections and expansion options available than in a larger motherboard.
The MSI Z97M GAMING has 6 SATA 3.0 hard drive slots. These allow for theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 6GB/s, as opposed to the 3GB/s of SATA 2.0. Generally speaking, only high performance hard drives, specifically solid-state drives, will be able to take advantage of the bandwidth potential of SATA 3.0 ports, though it is backwards compatible, so you do not have to take advantage.
The MSI Z97M GAMING supports onboard graphics. This allows for integrated graphics when paired with a compatible CPU that supports them. Integrated graphics are a cheap alternative to using a graphics card, but should be avoided when frequently using modern applications or games that require intense graphical processing. There are 2 PCIe x16 slots on this motherboard. This means it is perfectly capable of accommodating the latest graphics cards, although it is important to try and use a graphics card with the same graphics card interface of PCIe v3.0, as anything below will not reach the motherboard's potential, and anything above will have its performance slashed to the bandwidth maximum of the MSI Z97M GAMING's PCIe v3.0. The MSI Z97M GAMING supports up to 2 AMD Crossfire connected graphics cards for improved overall graphical performance at the cost of multiplied graphics-based power consumption as well as the price of the cards themselves. Nvidia SLI is not supported.
The MSI Z97M GAMING has 4 USB 2.0 slots and 7 USB 3.0 slots. USB 3.0 slots are theoretically capable of data transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbit/s, which is over 10 times faster than the USB 2.0 top speed of 480 Mbit/s. Although USB 2.0 slots alone currently serve as well as ever, an upgrade would better future-proof your system as more USB 3.0 compatible peripherals emerge. USB 3.0 is also backwards compatible with USB 2.0, which means you do not even have to use the newer slot functionality if you do not wish to.