With the release of Ryzen CPUs AMD has shown that they are ready, willing, and able to compete against Intel in a wide range of markets. However, unlike Intel LGA 1151 7-series of CPUs which are backwards compatible with ‘Z170’ motherboards, AMD Ryzen requires a brand-new motherboard – a AM4 motherboard to be precise. This is a bit of a drawback for AMD, but as AM3+ motherboards were getting long in the tooth… and lacking a lot of features that modern chipsets can provide it’s not that big a deal. What is however is AMD has created a new need for a next generation motherboard capable of handling the Ryzen series.
Right now AMD Ryzen buyers have a wide range of motherboard options to choose from with everything from inexpensive $100 boards like the MIS B350 Tomahawk to $150 (USD) MSI X370 SLI Plus, to high end motherboards like the MSI X370 XPOWER Gaming Titanium. To our way of thinking, and we will go over our point of view in a moment, the MSI X370 SLI Plus is tailor made for the Ryzen 7 series.
We say this for two key reasons. Firstly, it is a X370 chipset based model. This means eight PCIe 2.0 lanes instead of 6 (B350) or only 4 (A320). These extra lanes allow for more PCIe slots to be useable at the same time. In the X370 SLI Plus’ case this takes the form of three PCIe x1 ports and a ‘x4’ PCIe slot (which runs in x1 mode when even one x1 slot is used) are included without scavenging from the two main PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. Beyond this however it offers 2-way SLI (8+8) and 3-way Crossfire (8+8+4) support so that PC gaming enthusiasts of all stripes will be more than satisfied. It also comes with a 4-lane PCIe M.2 port, MSI’s Armor for the PCIe 3.0 and M.2 ports, it comes with multiple SATA 6Gb/s ports and it covers all the other bases nicely. Basic features like a reasonably good on-board sound solution, good aesthetics, and even automatic overclocking of the CPU and RAM.
In addition to all this, it also comes with one feature more expensive motherboards cannot offer: a reasonable asking price. With an asking price of just $150 (USD) it really is the realm of possibility for darn near any buyer, and yet does not require a lot of sacrifice on the performance capabilities. To our way of thinking AMD Ryzen systems are all about value and performance.
Basically the Ryzen 7 is easily competes against Intel i7 6900K yet costs less than half of that CPUs asking price. That means for consumers who want power but without a powerful hit to their wallet AMD Ryzen 7 is the way to go. Thus spending as much for the motherboard as the CPU… or even more than the CPU does not make a whole lot of sense. This is why on paper it seems like an excellent match for most buyers. So let’s see if the real world performance of the MSI X370 SLI Plus lives up to expectations.