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MSI 970 Gaming Review

MSI 970 Gaming

Manufacturer: MSI
UK: £69.56 (inc VAT)
US: $99.99 (ex Tax)

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We haven't looked at a non APU-based AMD motherboard for quite a while, for the simple reason that our focus, and that of much of the enthusiast community, has been with Intel CPUs.

However, we won't start any long debates here, other than to say that at the budget end of the spectrum, AMD does make for viable options. This is especially true if you need plenty of threads as CPU's such as the FX-8350 can have an edge over many of Intel's similarly-priced offerings despite AMD's lack of IPC grunt.

Today we're looking at MSI's move to transition its popular Gaming motherboard brand to AMD's 970 chipset, with a fairly low price tag to match.

The 970 Gaming isn't going to win over those on super-tight budgets, where the sub-£50 AM3+ motherboards are still king. However, if you don't mind spending another £20 or so, the extras on offer are very tempting indeed, so keep reading.

For starters, considering the 970 Gaming retails for around £70, it's actually better-looking than some Intel boards that cost £50 more, even if it is a little spartan, with the red and black heatsinks matching the colour scheme of the EFI and the Gaming brand in general. There's oodles of space around the CPU socket for large CPU coolers, although low profile models may still struggle not to interfere with the large VRM heatsink. The layout on the whole is good too, with all the main connectors located at the edge of the PCB, although a couple of fan headers do find their way in to the centre, which will inevitably lead to some awkward cable tidying.

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There are a few features to note, but for the most part the PCB is sparce with nothing by way of overclocking tools such as buttons or LED readouts but to find these on any sub £100 motherboard is a rare thing. What is included is a beefed up audio spec, with an isolated area of PCB

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On plugging cables in, though, we found one annoying issue, which is that the 8-pin EPS 12V connector sits very close to the large VRM heatsink and unfortunately, MSI has opted to have the release latch situated on the heatsink side. This makes it extremely difficult to remove the cable and we actually had to use a screwdriver to get it free.

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Specifications

  • Chipset AMD 970
  • Form factor ATX
  • CPU support AMD Socket AM3+ (Athlon/ Phenom)
  • Memory support Dual-channel, 4 slots, max 32GB
  • Sound 8-channel Realtek ALC1150
  • NetworkingKiller E2205
  • Ports 6 x SATA 6Gbps, 4 x USB 3.0 (2 via header), 14 x USB 2.0 ( 6 x via header), 1 x LAN, audio out, line in, mic, Optical S/PDIF out
  • Dimensions (mm) 305 x 244
  • Extras None