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MSI 970 Gaming AM3+ Motherboard Review

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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.

msi_970_gaming_overhead

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.

msi_970_gaming_accessories

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.

msi_970_gaming_left_ports

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.

msi_970_gaming_right_ports

Six card slots comprise two PCI-E x16 slots for video cards, two PCI-E x1 slots, and, oddly, two old-school PCI slots.

msi_970_gaming_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”.

msi_970_gaming_rear_ports

Let’s continue looking at this board in the next section.


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