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MSI 970 Gaming AM3+ Motherboard Review

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MSI 970 Gaming Motherboard Conclusion

Although MSI offers a variety of Gaming motherboards, the MSI 970 Gaming is the only AMD gaming motherboard in their lineup. If you want to step up to the top-end 990FX chipset, your only MSI choice is the MSI 990FXA-GD80, a “mainstream” motherboard, although it can support 3-way SLI and 4-way CrossFireX setups, and even has OC Genie.

As I mentioned before, this motherboard in combination with the FX-8320E is being touted by AMD as a budget gaming platform, and my testing of the system supports this position: if you want the best gaming performance, prioritize GPUs and maybe an SSD before putting money into a “faster” processor. And AMD’s 8-core FX CPUs might have even more of an advantage with the introduction of the multi-threaded DX12 graphics API that will be included with Windows 10.

In terms of gaming performance and FPS, this motherboard and even a low-end FX CPU like the 8320E are not going to hold you back much, if at all. But I continue to worry about the lack of progress in AMD’s desktop CPUs and chipsets.

In terms of performance, this board is excellent, especially given its budget pricing and the way that MSI supports SLI and CrossFire on a chipset not certified for it.

The appearance of the board is admittedly derivative– it’s not as if red and black aren’t common colors for gaming hardware– but nonetheless attractive.

The construction of the board appears solid.

Functionally, it’s both good and bad. The surprising support for SLI and CrossFire, especially at this price point, is great. But the lack of native USB 3.0, PCI-E 3.0, and other modern interfaces due to the aging AMD CPU and chipset architecture is disappointing.

Available online for  $99.89 (Newegg | B&H | Amazon), this board is an excellent value. If gaming performance per dollar is your primary metric, you should give this product serious consideration.

Pros:

Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ Good overclockability
+ Excellent bang for the buck
+ Pushes 970 chipset beyond its specifications

Cons:

— Minimalist feature set; lacks native support for new interfaces
— AMD’s dubious commitment to the desktop market
— No hardware buttons
— OC Genie disables XMP

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.75
  • Appearance: 9.00
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 7.25
  • Value: 9.00

Final Score: 8.90 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: Who makes the best motherboards, in your opinion?

NewEgg.com

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