MSI made a certain bunch of people go ‘OOH!’ with their announcement of the rehash of the notable AMD 9-series chipset. For those not in the know, this AMD 9-series was launched last 2011. So here we are in 2014 and the question for MSI is this, “Are you going to give back its glory days or are you just reviving an old dinosaur?” To help them answer that question, we got our hands on one of their AMD boards, the MSI 970 Gaming.
Similar to its Intel counterparts, the 970 Gaming sports the dark red and black color scheme. There’s the MSI Dragon Shield on the chipset and the frilled sinks on the VRMs. There’s a hefty amount of space on top of the board and sadly is home to only one CPU fan header. The board supports up to 32GB of RAM with its four DIMM slots.
For storage, we have 6 SATA 3 6Gb/s ports and that’s that. With the two PCI-E slots present in this board, one can have a dual Crossfire or SLI configuration.
For I/O ports, we have a legacy PS/2 port, eight USB 2.0s, and two USB 3.0 ports. For interconnectivity, we have a Killer E2200. Lastly, a connector for S/PDIF and the usual set of audio ports powered by a Realtek ACL1150 Codec.
Similar to the Z97 Gaming 5, the 970 Gaming sports the Click BIOS 4. Our previous review was all praises for MSI’s BIOS as it was very easy to traverse and understand. The same goes with this one. A set of menus are present which the user can click and navigate for more advanced controls and configurations. While going through different menus, the BIOS presents necessary info about the current conditions of the system without being intrusive and taking much space.
With the BIOS-based explorer, users are given a visual treat as to what the system is presently packing. By selecting the different slots or ports, the user can get information as to what is attached. Though not that much needed, MSI’s effort for this one is hard not to appreciate.
Next we have the hardware monitor. As the name implies, it is more of a watch tower for the overall integrity of the system minus overclocking options. Fan settings can be configured here depending on the user’s liking.
OC Genie is an automated overclocking tool built-in MSI motherboards. What we have installed is an AMD FX-8350 which is still considered as a formidable processor despite being three years old.
On the left side, we have the board set on stock. 4.0 GHz at stable temperatures of 29°C. The right-hand picture shows an overclocked processor via OC Genie. Achieved was a 200Mhz increase in CPU frequency by adding just one to the multiplier. The voltage consumed was 1.376V while the stock one only had 1.048V. 200Mhz for 0.3V? An expert told us that there should have been no need to append additional voltage of this magnitude in getting this 4.2Ghz frequency, thus allowing us to conclude that you’re better off sticking with manual overclock with this board.
After tinkering with the BIOS, we’re off to the OS-based programs. We ran the system with Windows 8.1, with an ASUS GTX 750 PHOC as our graphics card (thanks, ASUS!). We had no problems in installing the utilities of bundled with the 970 Gaming. But there’s this lingering thought as we had our run – why are they so few?
Above is the MSI Command Center. Given the title, it’s a hardware-based controller made present and understandable on software level. You have the usual controls for overclocking and tweaking the CPU, RAM, and other built-in systems. It also doubles as an infograph for the system’s current behavior.
And also a ready replacement for the CPU-Z if you don’t have enthusiasm or the internet connection to download it.
For audio, we have a Sound Blaster Cinema 2 to complement the on-board Realtek ACL1150. There’s an improvement with the audio quality as compared to other similarly chipped boards. But then again, the gain is not that much for you to break into a song and dance number.
Pushing their Killer LAN systems, MSI bundles the accompanying program with the board. Okay, we have to be honest here. What’s with the tiles for navigation?
All in all, the MSI 970 Gaming is a decent board. If you’re into building a new and affordable system, we would gladly recommend this to you as it is easy to go about and has no danger of bending pins. However, enthusiasts may find the current iteration still lacking in major parts. It’s no surprise that it can’t be helped but compare it to the standard set upon by Intel today. But as an alternative motherboard for the sole purpose of gaming, by all means, give the MSI 970 Gaming a try. You could get this board for only Php 4,950, from official MSI resellers; the price is great for all those gamers looking for everything they need for gaming, with no nonsense feature they don’t need. If you do need more, then prepare to shell out more money for a more feature heavy board, but this AMD beaut should be the sufficient for all your gaming needs for a price that would not leave your wallet torn and shattered.
On the side
It’s either I’m not here or I’m busy gaming. Family Issues, man…
|CPU||• Supports AMD®FXTM/ Phenom™ II/ Athlon™ II and Sempron™ processors for the AM3/ AM3+ socket|
|Hyper Transport Bus||• HyperTransport 3.0 supporting speed up to 4.8GT/s|
|Chipset||• AMD® 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 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|
|• 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots|
|• 2 x PCI slots|
|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|
|USB||• AMD® SB950 Chipset|
|– 14x USB 2.0 ports (8 ports on the back panel, 6 ports available through the internal USB 2.0 connectors)|
|• VIA VL806 Chipset|
|– 4 x USB 3.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB 3.0 connector)*|
|* These USB 3.0 ports do not support M-Flash recovery function.|
|Audio||• Realtek® ALC1150 Codec|
|7.1-Channel High Definition Audio|
|– Supports S/PDIF output|
|LAN||• Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN controller*|
|– 1 x LAN port on the backpanel|
|* 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 I/O 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 I/O 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|
|BIOS||• The 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.|
|Dimension||• 12 in. x 9.6 in. (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm) ATX Form Factor|
|Mounting||• 9 mounting holes.|