MSI 970 Gaming Motherboard Review: Undercutting AM3+ at $100by Ian Cutress on January 22, 2015 10:00 AM EST
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:
Rear IO Shield
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.
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.
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.
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.