MSI 970 GAMING Motherboard Review

Trying to play catch up with the latest and greatest will cost you a pretty penny. The average enthusiast tries to acquire the best technologies for cheap; the same goes for gamers since most everyone wants to save money. If your budget is a little over $200 USD for a motherboard and CPU, finding the right combination could be a challenge but going the AMD route has proven to be an economical choice over the years. Since AMD’s FX line has a received a life extension with the release of more options for their 8-core FX processor line, many mainboard manufacturers such as MSI have also released new 970 chipset motherboards that bring modern gaming amenities to AM3+ processors that were not previously available back when AM3+ processors were first introduced.

The MSI 970 GAMING motherboards supports a wide range of AMD AM3+ processors and provides gamers with an affordable gaming platform to build a system. Unlike other 970 chipset motherboards that have a default PCI-E Gen.2 split of 16x/4x however, MSI’s 970 GAMING motherboard is able to run dual video cards in 8x/8x configuration for optimal Crossfire performance and enables NVIDIA SLI support since that multi-GPU setup requires at least 8x PCI-E 2.0 to run. The 970 GAMING is also outfitted with a Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN controller and Realtek ALC1150 HD audio codec for superior gaming experience compared to a regular 970 chipset mainboard.

Review Sample Provided by: MSI
Product Name: MSI 970 GAMING 
Price at time of review: $99 USD MSRP
Product was given in exchange for work done to produce this review.

Since this motherboard is designed for gamers, MSI displays its features pretty much all over the motherboard box. The color scheme of the packaging is black and red. There are no crazy flames or anything over the top, however the packaging does a good job describing of what you are buying. On the front of the box we see MSI’s signature dragon with some of the hardware features on the top. On the back of the box, some of the 970 Gaming’s unique features are listed such as MSI “Military Class IV” components, Killer network support, OC Genie and more.

IMG_7313IMG_7314

The Accessories included with the motherboard are: SLI bridge, a couple of latching SATA cables, IO Shield, Driver CD, sticker tabs for labeling cables, user guide, mounting guide, a case badge and my favorite – a Do-Not-Disturb door sign. To protect the motherboard from any static discharge, the motherboard has been placed inside an anti-static bag.

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The full official specifications table can be seen below:

CPUSupports  AMD®FXTM/ Phenom™ II/ Athlon™ II and Sempron™ processors for the AM3/ AM3+ socket
Hyper Transport BusHyperTransport 3.0 supporting speed up to 4.8GT/s
ChipsetAMD 970 and SB950 Chipset
Main Memory
  • 4 x DDR3 memory slots supporting up to 32GB
  • Supports DDR3 2133(OC)/ 1866/ 1600/ 1333/ 1066 MHz
  • Dual channel memory architecture
Slots
  • 2 x PCI slots
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
  • 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots*

*PCI_E2 supports up to PCIe 2.0 x16 speed, PCI_E4 supports up to PCIe 2.0 x8 speed

Multi-GPU
  • Supports 2-Way AMD® CrossFire™ Technology*
  • Supports 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology*

*Supports Windows 7 and Windows 8/ 8.1.

On-board SATA AMD SB950 Chipset

  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports
  • Supports RAID 0, RAID1, RAID5 and RAID 10
USBAMD SB950 Chipset

  • 14 x USB 2.0 Ports (8 ports on back panel, 6 ports available through the internal USB 2.0 connectors)

VIA VL806 Chipsetf

  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 6 ports available through the internal USB 2.0 connector*

* These USB 3.0 ports do not support M-Flash recovery function.

AUDIORealtek ALC1150 Codec

  • 7.1-Channel High Definition AUdio
  • Supports S/PDIF output
LAN1 x Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN Controller** The Killer Network Manager is only available for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 currently. The supported drivers for other operating systems would be available on the website if provided by vendor.
Internal IO Connectors
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 3 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports)
  • 1 x USB 3.0 connector
    1 x 4-pin CPU fan connector
  • 2 x 4-pin system fan connectors
  • 2 x 3-pin system fan connectors
  • 1 x Front panel audio connector
  • 2 x System panel connectors
  • 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
  • 1 x TPM module connector
  • 1 x Serial port connector
    1 x S/PDIF-Out connector
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x Slow mode booting switch
Back Panel IO Ports
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse combo port
  • 8 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF-Out connector
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
  • 6 x OFC audio jacks
BIOSThe motherboard BIOS provides “Plug & Play” BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.The motherboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your motherboard specifications.
Dimension12 in. x 9.6 in. (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm) ATX Form Factor
Mounting9 Mounting Holes
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