- AMD 970 + SB950
- FX, Phenom II X6/X4/X3/X2, Athlon II X4/X3/X2 and Sempron CPU in AM3 / AM3+ package
- DDR3 2133* (OC)/ 1866/ 1600/ 1333/ 1066
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Nice Budget Board 05/03/2013
This review is from: MSI 970A-G43 AM3+ AMD 970 + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
All the essentials are there to build a stable, fast system with all the modern essentials like USB 3.0, SATA 6.0, etc. There are enough onboard headers to full utilize ports on all but the largest cases.
Overclocking options in the BIOS are very handy and easy to use, if not a bit overachieving. BIOS is very intuitive and has all the functions to customize and fine tune your system, without delving into a land of confusion with thousands of settings you've never seen before. I found what I needed, set it, and it worked! Can't ask for much more than that in a BIOS.
Very first AMD board I've ever used to a) have a setting for the XMP profile of the RAM modules and b) actually set them and configure timings correctly without any user intervention.
I was able to run DDR3-2133 using XMP settings and it was rock solid. I have another AM3+ board I paid over $50 more for, that cannot use DDR3-2133 with the exact same RAM modules, it simply won't post. Great job MSI.
After setting this board up, I came away feeling that I got everything I wanted and needed in a PC motherboard, and nothing that I didn't, all at a price I'm happy to pay.
I was able to customize the system with settings that I feel are tapping 110% of my components' potential. All with rock solid stability. I have my FX-8350 overclocked to 4.6ghz, RAM at DDR3-2200 at listed timings, graphics card & all peripherals work the way they're supposed to. Everything just went without any hiccups, and I can't say that for many motherboards I've tested, seems there's always some hangup.
I got better, more stable performance from this budget board, than I did a similar 970 chipset motherboard that advertised 8 power phases, and cost almost twice the money.
Some people hate it, but I like the fact that AMD (so far) has preserved legacy PCI, and MSI chose to provide two ports.. One I have tied up with an IDE controller that hosts my Benq 1650 and 1620 DVD Burner. Anyone who knows DVD burners well, knows how special these are, and I am not looking forward to the day when PCI & IDE go away and I have to get rid of them!
Overclocking settings are abundant, but cannot be fully realized without risking damage to the motherboard. Warnings and evidence are everywhere that caution users against overclocking on budget MSI boards (though MSI is certainly not the only board maker to do this), due to the VRM not being adequate for some of the more power hungry CPU's.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how unlikely it is that ten tiny open-air MOSFETs are going to provide 140+ watts of power without self-detonating. Truth is, this board simply will not support overclocking high power CPU's (125W TDP+) without passive cooling in place over the VRM components.
I cut up an old CPU heatsink, and used thermal epoxy to mount them atop the MOSFETs. There is no doubt in my mind (judging by the temp of the heatsinks with the CPU at even 50% load) that had I not done this, I would be RMAing this board, due to fire or a fried VRM.
During a Prime95 test of only 4 of 8 cores, I cannot hold my fingers on either the VRM heatsink, or Northbridge heatsink for more than a second, they are so hot.
Time will tell if even my custom heatsink (which is quite large BTW, at least 2" tall) will suffice when I game and stress the CPU beyond 50%. Right now I have the CPU at 4.6ghz and voltage maxed out at 1.5v in the BIOS (which results in 1.45v under load), but I feel that having such liberal overclocking options will cause MSI a lot of trouble with defective VRM's and a high rate of RMA's. It's nice to have the overclocking options available, but only if they work and don't fry my board :). I will update this review if it fries.
For some reason I can't get CAS 10 to set on the RAM timings. When I do that and save the BIOS, it goes to CAS 9. If I set CAS 11, it will work at CAS 11. But no 10 option appears to be available, even though it's there. BIOS bug, maybe?
I love the board and think MSI really got this one right. I know MSI will look at my review and say "well this is a budget board, it's not aimed at overclockers," but I say if you put the options in there, they better work.
If you're going to make a cheap board and use cheap components, then put conservative settings in there that won't stress them. Or hide overclocking options altogether in the interest of safety-- People will understand and buy the more expensive boards if they want max overclocking potential. Fires and fried components are unacceptable.
That said, if you take appropriate precautions, you can really get a lot out of this board. I would definitely recommend this board to others with this in mind.
Using the other, more expensive 970 motherboard (whose name is also a RAM/Hard Drive capacity denomination), I was about to give up on the platform and go Intel due to all the overclocking and configuration trouble I was having with my FX-8350 CPU. I have been setting up PCs and overclocking for over 15 years, yet I couldn't get my RAM to rated speed, and my CPU overclock was just pathetic. Overclocking is a hobby and my goal was to get the most out of the hardware that my budget allows. This MSI board definitely helped me reach that potential and more despite it's own limitations. I now have a system that I'm 100% happy with.
Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for the very informative review and it will for sure benefit a lot of customers.
Sure, we can lock/restrict the options but there are always customers who want to have access to everything possible, even if it's a cheap/budget board and we cannot satisfy everyone
Therefore, we've decided to keep the options open, because if you are not an overclock then you will not touch the options anyway, but if you are an overclocker then you will want the premium options that you can get from premium boards.
So if you truly wish to overclock on this board, then as always consider yourself warned and use it at your own risks because fried components can even occur on premium products, please also keep in mind that your result varies depending on your set up and cooling efficiency.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our tech support team directly at 626.271.1004 for assistance during regular business hours from M to F, 9am to 6pm Pacific Time.
Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.
MSI Review Team | email@example.com
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