MSI Z270 SLI Plus LGA 1151 Motherboard Review

MSI brings to the table, one of the least expensive SLI capable motherboards based on Intel’s Z270 Express chipset available today. While not totally stripped, it does sacrifice a few things to keep costs down. That said, it’s also got a solid foundation and offers a ton of value for the money. If you are looking to build an LGA 1151 rig, you won’t want to miss this one.


Motherboard Overclocking Software

MSI still includes its Command Center software with the Z270 SLI Plus. I've never liked this software. I find the interface clunky, confusing, and the software lacks some of the basic features found in competing solutions. Namely, there is no automated overclocking to be had, which is a feature held back due to price point, but I doubt many of our readers will care. You do sometimes get a build in RAM drive or the ability to auto-calibrate fan speeds for fan control, but I still find the software to be relatively annoying.

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The interface, and all its elements always felt like they were designed by disparate groups of developers and then tacked together badly. It was as though these groups went their own way with the software, neglecting to use a unified design plan or theme. You end up with parts of it that look like an audio equalizer, some parts that resemble an oscilloscope, and other parts that look like a form you'd fill out for the IRS with an endless sea of check boxes. One minute you are adjusting sliders, the next you are using plus or minus keys. After that, you get a round audio knob looking controls or you get to manipulate points on a graph to set up fan curves.

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There is no logical progression to the application. Even more confusing is that you have navigation tabs at the top which usually lead to nothing of value. The first tab, for tuning the CPU is the real deal, but everything after that is generally fluff. You must hit the advanced button on the bottom of the application window to activate the advanced stuff. Instead of automatic overclocking, you get a splash screen that lazily tells you to go into the UEFI to use the built in automatic overclocking there.

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It’s been obvious to me from day one that the MSI Command Center is designed to offer form over function. To make matters even worse, it doesn't always work correctly. On more than one motherboard, I've had trouble with the application crashing when bringing up certain functions. Most of the time, these are related to DRAM information. This is a legacy issue from Command Center's predecessor. This suggests that the base code for Command Center dates well before the Z97 motherboard era. Ordinarily, I can find something I like about the software. In this case, that's not so. The CPU tuning menu is probably the best aspect of it, but ASUS and others do a far better job here. The rest of the application wastes space, follows no logical work flow, and creates an additional learning curve by being schizophrenic in its different menus.

Simple solution to the Command Center problem is to never install it.