The gaming performance is notably better for the MSI, as it ekes out a few frames per second advantage in both average and minimum frame rate over the Asus 785G when they are both running with a Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP! graphics card.
As usual we reset the BIOS to its default values and loaded up both the Prime 95 torture test and 3DMark 06 looping to see if the board could withstand the stress to CPU, memory and PCI-Express power draw for 24 hours. Apart from a fan to cool the CPU heatsink, there were no other fans used, meaning the heatsinks (or lack of them) have to withstand very little airflow and still keep the components cool.
After a full 24 hours we came back to to find both 3DMark and Prime95 still running and the system completely responsive; an excellent result for the MSI 770-C45, despite its distinct lack of metal.
Value and Conclusion
The MSI 770-C45 has strong competition from the recently released 785G motherboards, however most of these are retailing for 20 or 30 per cent more than the 770-C45 and come in the micro-ATX format. Despite the sudden, recent favour for the smaller form factor, full ATX cases are still the norm and the extra breathing room for future expansion is always welcome if it doesn't cost more.
For the £55-60 being asked for the C45 across UK online retailers, it's really not that much money to spend on a motherboard that is stable, overclocks well and has "enough" features for most of us to survive on. It'll fit perfectly as a backbone to a family PC or cheap gaming rig if your budgets are tight. Between the GD65 (which Custom PC has reviewed) and the GD80 that is getting unanimous respect, the C45 fits a trio of great AM3 boards for MSI.
The BIOS is better than both 785G boards we've seen to date, but it lacks one crucial feature: core unlocking. On a cheaper board it's ever more important to sway people towards AMD, as Intel is still the choice for awesome overclocks from CPUs like the E5200 or 7000 series. While there's more risk buying a Phenom II X2 550 or X3 720 Black Edition that is more unlikely to unlock than either an Intel or AMD CPU successfully overclocks, the potential benefits of extra cores for free are greater.
So the solid BIOS makes up for simple hardware, and for under £60 it's one of the best value boards we've probably ever used. Grab one for some cheap, old school, overclocking fun! Awesome!