MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon

Ready to invest in the latest Intel 8th Gen CPUs and also eager to build a mini-ITX gaming system? MSI think they have the perfect solution for you! Their new Gaming Pro Carbon Mini-ITX motherboard comes crammed full of features for the compact gaming market while promising to deliver big when it comes to raw performance

Equipped with support for Turbo M.2, Intel Optane, high-performance DDR4 memory, and with plentiful overclocking options, it should deliver some impressive benchmarks today. Of course, you get plenty of bonus features too, like Lightening USB, RGB lighting, Hotkey, X-Boost, and WTFast to help sweeten the deal.



For in-depth specifications, please visit the MSI product page here.

A Closer Look

It may be a small motherboard, but MSI has packed it full of cool hardware. The main star of the show is, of course, the revised 8th Gen socket. This new socket allows support for the new 6-core Intel CPUs, and as you can see, it packs some chunky VRM cooling and power delivery hardware for reliable overclocking capabilities too.

There’s a single PCIe slot, which comes with an armoured design that obviously looks great, but also helps provide strength to support bulkier graphics cards with ease.

The DDR4 DIMM slots are armoured too, which again looks cool, but will help reduce unwanted flexing in the motherboard. There are four SATA ports, as well as a USB 3.0 header for peripheral connections.

The CPU takes its power from a single 8-pin header, giving us plenty of headroom for overclocking, even on the new CPUs.

Audio fans rejoice, with the inclusion of powerful AMP/DAC and dedicated capacitors, as well as AUDIO BOOST 4 with Nahimic 2+ support for improved processing.

My favourite aspect, however, is this comprehensive rear I/O. Here you’ll find two display outputs; HDMI and DP. There are five USB ports, plus a single Type-C, PS2, Gbe LAN, Intel WiFI, as well as analogue and digital audio outputs.

Overall, the MSI Gaming Pro Carbon AC has all the right hardware, now let’s find out how it performs!

Testing and Methodology

Test Procedure

Here at eTeknix, we endeavour to disclose vital information regarding the benchmarking process so that readers can quantify the results and attempt to replicate them using their hardware. When it comes to motherboard reviews, the benchmarks are pretty self-explanatory although there are a few exceptions.

Rember that your choice of motherboard, the silicon lottery, and other factors can yield different numbers, and there’s always a margin for error when using the software. Therefore, your experience may vary. Each benchmark runs three times, and the average figure is taken to try to reduce the effect of hardware variation. Of course, any relevant details regarding the parameters will be listed below.

Test Systems




AM4 Ryzen R3, R5 and R7



Games Used

All games are tested on a 60 Hz display with V-Sync off for all tests. Previously we would use “extreme” presets, but these have now been adjusted to “Medium” or equivalent to better test the capabilities of the CPU, not the GPU.

Software Used


To stress processors to their absolute limit and accurately judge their performance in video editing workloads, we transcode a 7.7GB compilation of gaming footage; this particular file is freely available from here. The captured footage is 22 minutes and 12 seconds long, it has a bit rate of 50.1 Mbps and it uses the Advanced Video Codec. Additionally, the video runs at a constant 30 frames-per-second and opts for a 3820 x 2140 (4K) resolution. Once loaded into Handbrake, we then transcode the 4K MP4 to an MKV file using the “normal” profile.

Other Notes

A rest period of 2-5 minutes is observed between each piece of software allowing the system to return to its idle power usage and temperatures. Background services like Windows Update are checked to not be running during the testing period by setting WiFi to Metered Connection.


Thank you to NoctuaCrucialASUSGigabyteLian-Libe quiet!OCZ, for providing the hardware that helps makes these tests possible!

Synthetic Benchmarks

3DMark Firestrike

Straight away, the latest mini-ITX motherboard from MSI is showing its worth. It scored 23189 in 3DMark at stock, and pushed to 23862 once overclocked. Not our fastest time ever, but it’s certainly not far from the top!



Unigine Superposition 1080p Extreme

PCIe throughput is clearly not an issue either, with the GTX 1080 Ti hitting 5551 and 5531 in Unigine.



PCMark 10 Express

This benchmark loves Intel CPUs, and the new 6 core 8th Gen CPUs certainly perform well. The MSI motherboard hit 6238 and 6586 once overclocked. Overall, that’s our third highest score to date!



WPrime 32M and 1024M

The good numbers just keep on rolling in, with the stock time of 107 being taken to just 100.202 once overclocked. Sure, it’s not as number crunch happy as the Ryzen or Threadripper CPUs and motherboards, but it’s pretty darn fast for a consumer mini-ITX configuration.



Cinebench R15

The increased core count, the fast memory support and Optane are all big helps for Z370, and the latest MSI motherboard had no issues hitting a respectable 1638 once overclocked. That’s one of the lower scores for Z370, but still competitive.



Handbrake MP4 to MKV Conversion 4K

Again, a competitive score, with all of the Z370 motherboards performing about the same in this regard.



AIDA 64 Memory Bandwidth and Latency

No problems or surprises here either, with the motherboard performing well within the rated specifications for our memory kit.

Gaming Performance

Having reviewed many Z370 motherboards, we already know they’re pretty darn fast when it comes to gaming. Fortunately, despite being mini-ITX, the MSI motherboard has lost nothing when it comes to delivering great gaming performance. It scored some of our highest numbers to date! It reached 149 FPS in Deus Ex, 141 in Ghost Recon, 198 in Rise of the Tomb Raider, and 157 in Far Cry. Overall, if you’re using this for a gaming system, you’re going to be very happy with it.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Rise of the Tomb Raider

GhostRecon: Wildlands

Far Cry Primal

Power Consumption and Temperatures

Power Consumption

The power consumption is pretty reasonable too, obviously less power needed than its ATX counterparts, but still quite high to reflect the high-end performance. Overall, pretty competitive though.



Final Thoughts


The MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC Mini-ITX motherboard is available now from most major retailers for around £160-170. That’s not cheap, but when you see the performance is rubbing shoulders with many similarly priced and full-size ATX motherboards, it’s pretty fantastic. It even managed to beat out and compete with more expensive motherboards, making it very appealing for those building a compact gaming system.


The Z370 range continues to impress and while there are few changes between these and their Z270 counterparts, we can’t knock the performance. Of course, most of the gains are courtesy of the new 6-core 8th Generation Intel CPUs, but the end result is still the same. Mini-ITX motherboards are fantastic for compact and portable gaming systems, and the latest from MSI is certainly one of the best we’ve ever tested.


While it did score the highest ever Z370 benchmark numbers we’ve ever had, it was certainly up there with the best. Size is clearly not a limiting factor here, and the chunky heat sinks help maintain the high performance even while overclocked to 5 GHz. If your main focus is blazing high FPS, then you’ll be very happy with what it has to offer.


Performance is one part of the puzzle, but the motherboard is also quite stylish. It blends dark design with a few touches of carbon fiber for a sleek look. Of course, you can fire up the customisable RGB lighting to put your own touch on it with Mystic Light. Of course, if you have other Mystic Light hardware, you can sync everything up for added flair.

Added Value

An armoured PCIe slot, armoured DDR4 slots, chunky heatsinks, Audio Boost 4, Military Class 5 hardware, and powerful networking certainly sweeten the deal here. Of course, with M.2 support you can get blazing fast storage and use Optane drives to boost performance even further. Overall, this is easily one of the best mini-ITX motherboards on the market today.



MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon Mini-ITX Motherboard Review