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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 08 > MSI 970 GAMING

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08-08-2014


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MSI 970 GAMING motherboard review and testing

It's not a secret that Intel dominates in the segment of x86-processors. Especially confidently it feels in the category of high-performance solutions that are often used by gamers to build their desktop systems. It is not surprising that the first motherboards of series MSI GAMING were developed precisely on the basis of Intel chipsets. In spring 2014 the first models of series MSI GAMING for platform Socket FM2+ were appeared. It only in the early summer 2014 the first solution in this series for the platform Socket AM3+ was released. 

MSI 970 GAMING is based on a chip of bridge AMD 970, which is added by traditional bridge and AMD SB950 and designed to work in tandem with the families of processors AMD Phenom II, AMD Athlon II, AMD Sempron and AMD FX. At the time of reviewing the new product was available for purchase but only abroad where it costs is about $ 100. Since MSI GAMING 970 refers to the game lineup, it has a good network controller and flagship sound subsystem. But let's not jump to conclusions, but traditionally turn to the study of the test specification of the model.

MSI 970 GAMING

The specs:

Producer

MSI

Model

970 GAMING (rev 1.0)

Chips of bridges

AMD 970 + AMD SB950

CPU socket

AMD Socket AM3+

Supported CPUs

AMD Phenom II / AMD Athlon II / AMD Sempron (Socket AM3)

AMD FX (Socket AM3+)

Memory frequency

2133* / 1866 / 1600 / 1333 / 1066 MHz

(*OC)

Expansion slots

4 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with the support up to 32 GB

 

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x16

x16

x8+x8

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

2 х PCI

Expansion slots

AMD SB950 supports:

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Audio subsystem

Realtek ALC1150 codec

7.1-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

24-pin ATX main power connector

8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

4 x system fan connectors (2x4-pin and 2x3-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiators on the elements of processor power subsystem

Aluminum radiator of north bridge

Aluminum radiator of south bridge

External I/O

1 x LAN (RJ45)

2 x USB 3.0

8 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x audio ports

1 х PS/2 (for mouse and keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

6 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x COM

1 x TPM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS

1 x switch Slow mode

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

ACPI 5.0, SM BIOS 2.7, PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver and utility disc

2 x SATA cables

1 х bridgeNVIDIA SLI

1 x door hanger

1 х sticker MSI GAMING

1 х interface panel plug

Form factor,

Dimensions

ATX

305 х 244 mm

Producer website

MSI
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

MSI 970 GAMING

Motherboard MSI 970 GAMING is traditionally shipped in a cardboard box which is decorated with high-quality and stylish graphic of MSI GAMING series. Most of the front side is reserved for the logo of the series, which is a stylized image of a dragon.

The useful information on the front side of the box contains the name of the board and the manufacturer, as well as the presence of a network controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 and audio subsystem with design Audio Boost 2.

MSI 970 GAMING

On the reverse side of the box, in addition to diagramming interface panel and brief specifications, there is a description of the key features and supported technologies:

  • Audio Boost 2 – sound subsystem in addition to the flagship codec Realtek ALC1150 includes special Nichicon audio capacitor, two amplifiers with the support of studio headphones with impedance up to 600 Ohms, and gold-plated audio outputs on the interface panel and cover for protection against electromagnetic interference. Also note a nice bonus in the form of shielding strips with LED-backlit.
  • Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 - network controller, which has the ability automatically detect game traffic and raise its priority with respect to the low-level system traffic ensuring low latency during game data transfering.
  • OC Genie 4 - automatic overclocking function, which is activated by pressing a button in the supplied software.
  • Multi-GPU - motherboard offers the support of technologies AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI for combining computing power of two graphics cards.
  • Sound Blaster Cinema 2 – due to this technology the quality of sound in games and when playing back multimedia content is significantly improved.
  • Military Class 4 - in the design of new products uses only high quality components such as solid capacitors Dark CAP with increased to 10 years service life and SFC chokes with ferrite core.
  • Gaming Device Port - USB 2.0 and PS/2 ports have three times increased volume of the gold coating, therefore,have greater reliability and durability. They are optimized for manipulators with high sampling frequency (from 500 to 1000 Hz), thereby reducing the response time from 8 to 1 millisecond.

MSI 970 GAMING

MSI 970 GAMING

Scope of delivery of the MSI 970 GAMING, in addition to the standard documentation and a disk with drivers and utilities includes two SATA cables, bridge NVIDIA SLI, interface board plug, the label on the system unit with the logo of the series MSI GAMING, as well as cardboard hanger with series logo and inscriptions: "I’m sorry busy gaming" and "I'm not here”.

Design and features   

MSI 970 GAMING

Traditionally for motherboards MSI GAMING novelty is made on matte black circuit board which matches with small red inclusions on the radiator. Special attention is given to metal logos at the ends of the radiators. The overall design is stylish and strict, indicating a high-quality product.

As for the on-board elements layout, we note that non-standard placement of leading-in socket to connect remote panel with USB 3.0 ports at the bottom of the board. The rest has no surprises: the location of all items is carefully and very successfully.

MSI 970 GAMING

The reverse side of the PCB has only the support plate of the socket. Also note that all three radiators are securely fastened with screws.

MSI 970 GAMING

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF Out, COM and TPM ports, one of four sockets for system fan connection, as well as two front panel leading-in sockets.

Also here are four sockets for activation of USB interfaces: three of USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is fourteen: six are internal and eight on the interface panel. As for USB 3.0, all four interfaces (two internal and two external) operate due to two controllers VIA VL806.

MSI 970 GAMING

The possibilities of organize a disk subsystem are presented by sic SATS 6 Gb/s ports and support of arrays RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 и RAID 10. Operation of all interfaces is realized by south bridge AMD SB950.

Since all of them are arranged parallel to the surface of the printed circuit board, even the longest expansion boards cannot prevent the connection of drives.

MSI 970 GAMING

The system board has four DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard which have clamps only on one side. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement the plates must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies up to 1866 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 2133 MHz in overclocking mode are supported. Maximum memory capacity can reach 32 GB, which is sufficient for almost all tasks.

MSI 970 GAMING

MSI 970 GAMING

Cooling system of the product includes three aluminum radiators: the first covers the CPU power subsystem and the second is used for heat removal from north bridge AMD 970, while the third is applied for cooling the south bridge AMD SB950. As we have already mentioned, all radiators are fixed by screws. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 36.5°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 10.1°C.

The received results are characterized as good.

MSI 970 GAMING

MSI 970 GAMING

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller uP1601P. The circuitry is made by high quality components and military standard MIL-STD-810G with proprietary design Military Class 4. The components include: solid capacitors Dark CAP and ferrite chokes SFC. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.

MSI 970 GAMING

To extend the functionality of MSI 970 GAMING user has six slots:

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (mode х16);
  3. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  4. PCI;
  5. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (mode х8);
  6. PCI.

Here MSI has prepared a very pleasant surprise for all fans of bunch of the two graphics cards. The fact is that AMD has given to north bridge a supports with maximum of sixteen lines of PCI Express 2.0, which it cannot realize in mode x8+x8. Usually the second connector has only four lines, so the final configuration is obtained x16+ x4, which does not reveal the potential of a bunch of AMD CrossFireX.

So what we have in the MSI 970 GAMING? For the second connector PCI Express 2.0 x16 there is a supports a maximum of eight lines, thus providing performance of mode x8+x8 for technologies AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI. That is, the new product has the functionality of traditionally more expensive solutions based on chipsets AMD 990X and AMD 990FX.

We also note the ability of connection the extension cards with interfaces PCI Express 2.0 x1 and PCI.

MSI 970 GAMING

Multi I/O capabilities are based on Fintek F71878AD chip which controls the operation of the system fans, PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors. 

MSI 970 GAMING

The operation of four USB 3.0 ports is realized by two VIA VL806 controllers.

MSI 970 GAMING

To support network connections there is a GB LAN-controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205. It has the set of hardware and software advantages to speed up the processing of gaming network traffic.

MSI 970 GAMING

The audio subsystem is based on quite interesting construction Audio Boost 2. It is based on the HDA-codec 7.1-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 with supports audio systems of formats 2/4/5.1/7.1. It operates together with two amplifiers to support headphones with impedance up to 600 Ohm. Also there are high-quality audio capacitors of Nichicon company, gold-plated audio connectors and shielding technology to protect against electromagnetic interference. Soft sound quality fine-tuning to the required level is carried out by software Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2.

MSI 970 GAMING

Interface panel of the model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x PS/2 mouse or keyboard connection;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 2 x USB 3.0;
  • 8 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out;
  • 6 x audio jacks.

Interface panel provides the user with good opportunities for connecting a wide range of peripherals. There is not only a large number of USB ports, but also an opportunity to put port COM on the back panel of the case, easy connection of multi-channel speakers, as well as support of technology Gaming Device Port. 

MSI 970 GAMING

MSI 970 GAMING

Motherboard MSI 970 GAMING is equipped with five fan connectors: one provides power to the CPU cooling system (4-pin) and the other four are used to connect the system fans (2 x 4-pin and 2 x 3-pin).


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