MSI 970 Gaming In The Box

Gaming motherboards should be at the heart of user experience – gamers want to play games and have a fun while they do it, and MSI recognized this back in 2013 and went all in with their Gaming ecosystem. This applies to gifts, goodies, styling, logos, and potentially motherboard in-box bundles. The only question is what would the average MSI motherboard user want? In the past we have seen posters and door hangers, which might be suited to the under-25s, but many users are over 25 and want something more subtle.

In the MSI 970 Gaming we get the following:

Driver DVD
Manuals
Rear IO Shield
Cable adhesives
Door Hanger
Two SATA Cables
Flexi SLI Bridge
Adhesive MSI Gaming badge for the case (not pictured)

While we get the door hanger, the poster is gone and the adhesive shield becomes a plus point in the general user designing a gaming system. In the same way that buying a CPU comes with a small sticker, and sometimes buying memory does as well, this allows the user to adorn their rig with an indication of the components inside.

Many thanks to...

We must thank the following companies for kindly providing hardware for our test bed:

Thank you to OCZ for providing us with PSUs and SSDs.
Thank you to G.Skill for providing us with memory.
Thank you to Corsair for providing us with an AX1200i PSU.
Thank you to MSI for providing us with the NVIDIA GTX 770 Lightning GPUs.
Thank you to Rosewill for providing us with PSUs and RK-9100 keyboards.
Thank you to ASRock for providing us with some IO testing kit.
Thank you to Cooler Master for providing us with Nepton 140XL CLCs.

Test Setup

For our testing, in order to provide a direct comparison with the other AMD 900 series motherboards we have tested (a big five board roundup and the 990FX Extreme9), we dusted off our old FX-8150 CPU for the bulk of our testing. As the motherboard was supplied with the FX-8320E, which we reviewed in our AMD testing motherboard, we have also included overclocking results for this in a comparison to the CPU review as well.

Test Setup
Processor AMD FX-8150
4 Modules, 8 Threads, 3.6 GHz / 4.2 GHz Turbo
Motherboards MSI 970 Gaming
Cooling Cooler Master Nepton 140XL
Power Supply OCZ 1250W Gold ZX Series
Corsair AX1200i Platinum PSU
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ 4x4 GB DDR3-1866 9-11-9 Kit
Memory Settings DDR3-1866 8-9-9
Video Cards MSI GTX 770 Lightning 2GB (1150/1202 Boost)
Video Drivers NVIDIA Drivers 337
Hard Drive OCZ Vertex 3
Optical Drive LG GH22NS50
Case Open Test Bed
Operating System Windows 7 64-bit SP1
USB 2/3 Testing OCZ Vertex 3 240GB with SATA->USB Adaptor

MSI 970 Gaming Overclocking

Experience with MSI 970 Gaming

As mentioned in the BIOS section of the review, MSI has somewhat crippled the overclocking options on the motherboard by not implementing any form of load line calibration or literal CPU voltage values. All the user has to go by is the CPU voltage offset and pump this up to overcome any voltage drop across the CPU. This causes our results with the FX-8320E to be 100 MHz less than in our CPU review motherboard due to overheating on the basis of raised voltages.

On the automatic overclocking front, OC Genie passed with the FX-8150 but when the FX-8320E was used, the voltage was not sufficient to boot into the OS.

Methodology

Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows. We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with PovRay and OCCT to simulate high-end workloads. These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.

For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from previous testing, starts off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed. The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed, and the process repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (100ºC+). Our test bed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air.

Overclock Results

BIOS and Software System Performance
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  • 200380051 - Friday, January 30, 2015 - link

    THAT. No 9 Series mATX boards whatsoever, and only a few AM3+ mATX boards with a decent power stage (even 4+1 phases). That's too bad. I, for one, could put one such board to good use. Reply
  • frenzy55 - Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - link

    "The 970 chipset limits the user to a single NVIDIA GPU and PCIe 2.0,"

    MSI's website says they support SLI and I am currently running 2 Radeon 7770's in crossfire with this board.
    Reply
  • frenzy55 - Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - link

    Also, their site claims x16 + x8. Reply
  • Phartindust - Thursday, January 29, 2015 - link

    Yeah Ian, the board does support AMD GPUs too. LOL Reply
  • ecuakd - Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - link

    can this motherboard handle 4k fine? Reply
  • arizona - Monday, October 19, 2015 - link

    hey averyone i got something to ask does this motherboard can it run windows 7 please let me know Reply
  • vikash124 - Wednesday, December 30, 2015 - link

    msi 970 usb 3.0 drivers not working please help Reply

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