Closer Look: AM3+ Motherboard
The MSI 970 Gaming motherboard uses the black-and-red color scheme that’s become popular for motherboards (and graphics cards, and keyboards, and mice…) aimed at gamers. It’s a handsome board although it might look a little sparse compared to some of the $300+ competition. There are no physical buttons for Power, Reset, or overclocking; nor is there a POST code display (well, there’s not one on the board. The BIOS shows POST codes in the lower right corner of your monitor as the system is starting, a nice touch). The MOSFET heat sinks are not connected with heat pipes, and there are no dual BIOS chips, PLX multiplexers, or dual NICs to be found.
The included accessories comprise a manual, driver disk, a doorknob hanger, a Quick Installation Guide, a metal MSI case badge, an SLI bridge, four SATA cables, the I/O back plate, and a handy sheet of label stickers for your cables.
At the lower left edge of the board are the front panel audio connector, the S/PDIF audio connector (JSP1), a fan header, a serial port header (DCOM1), and the truster platform module connector.
Moving past the TPM header, we see a USB 3.0 header, three USB 2.0 headers, and the odd MSI split front panel header.
Six card slots comprise two PCI-E x16 slots for video cards, two PCI-E x1 slots, and, oddly, two old-school PCI slots.
From left to right the rear I/O panel provides keyboard and mouse connectors (both USB and PS/2), an optical audio connector, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port with two more USB 2.0 ports, and the analog audio panel. It looks a little odd to see only two USB 3.0 ports on the back of the modern motherboard. All the audio connectors are gold-plated, and MSI says that the red-collared auto output is amplified and “optimized for studio-grade headgear”.
Let’s continue looking at this board in the next section.