MSI 970 Gaming AM3+ Motherboard Review


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Motherboard Bundled Software

MSI includes some nice utility software with this motherboard. The centerpiece is MSI COMMAND CENTER, which gives you control of many of the parameters you’d normally need to go to the BIOS to tweak. Yes, AMD does have their Overdrive facility built into the Catalyst software, but COMMAND CENTER is more pleasant visually, easier to use, and provides more features.


As you can see from the image above, you can adjust multipliers on a per-core basis, tweak the fan settings, create and use a RAM Disk, and invoke OC Genie.


The Advanced buttons lets you dig deeper into the adjustments. For example, in the standard interface you can adjust CPU voltage with a large, simple dial; whereas the Advanced interface lets you fine-tune individual voltages for various components.


The MSI 970 Gaming comes equipped with Atheros’ Killer E2205 gigabit Ethernet controller and its associated software stack, and you control this through the Killer Network Manager, which keeps track of the downstream and upstream traffic of each process, and allows you to set the priorities as appropriate. Typically this is used to give online games the highest priority to ensure the best response.


MSI’s Live Update 5 application checks all your installed software against the latest versions hosted at MSI, and will update them as appropriate.


FAST BOOT didn’t seem to make any difference in my testing– there was less than two seconds’ difference in boot-to-login times when it was enabled or disabled. The GO2BIOS button ensures that your board boots directly to the BIOS the next time you restart, but I found it unnecessary: unlike many boards, pressing the Del key at startup time to get into the BIOS instantly rewards you with an on-screen acknowledgement and reliable entry to the BIOS– you won’t be sitting there, pressing the Del key rapidly and cursing when your system ignores you and boots to Windows.

There are a couple of other items: Super Charger has no interface (and, as far as I can determine, no mention in the manual), but when it was enabled every USB port on the board could charge my iPad. And of course there’s the Realtek HD Audio Manager to manage the audio subsystem.


In the next section I’ll describe overclocking this motherboard.


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