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MSI 970A-G45 review

Does this budget AMD 970 chipset motherboard get the fundamentals right?

Our Verdict

For

  • Cheap
  • Solid functionality

Against

  • Poor SATA port placement
  • Clumsy BIOS

For Joe PC enthusiast, it's often a worry buying a cheap motherboard. How cheap can you go before boards don't have the features you need?

Manufacturers must be faced with a bit of a quandary in how to spec out their low-end boards too. This 970A-G45 from MSI is very cheap, so inevitably some sacrifices have had to be made to keep the cost down.

Most prevalent is the chipset. Unlike 990X and 990FX boards, models built around the 970 chipset don't support the brand new flavour of AMD-based SLI, but they do support two AMD graphics cards in CrossFireX configuration.

SLI slam

That makes sense for a £75 board, although it might frustrate owners of multiple Nvidia cards. As a rule of thumb, AMD chipsets play nicer with AMD graphics cards anyway, so you may be backed into a corner as far as GPU choice goes, but at least it's a corner with benefits.

In other areas, it's pleasantly bountiful for such a cheap mobo. Like its 990FXA-GD80 cousin (and most 990FX boards) it heaps six SATA 6Gbps ports on its slender PCB.

That's great on paper, but alas, their placement gives away the 970A-G45's weaker breeding. With a graphics card occupying the top PCI-e slot, the SATA ports lie awfully close to its fan, making it quite a hassle to drop in and pull out cables.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

AMD 9-Series

CPU video encoding performance
X246 v4: Frames per second: Higher is better
ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX: 33
Asus M5A99X EVO: 33
Asus RoG Crosshair V: 33
Asus Sabertooth 990FX: 32
Gigabyte 970A-UD3: 33
Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H: 33
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7: 33
MSI 970A-G45: 33

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better
ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX: 5.86
Asus M5A99X EVO: 5.86
Asus RoG Crosshair V: 5.86
Asus Sabertooth 990FX: 5.72
Gigabyte 970A-UD3: 5.78
Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H: 5.83
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7: 5.74
MSI 970A-G45: 5.71

Verdict

Still, thanks to the similar performance of all AMD's chipsets you won't lose out in that regard.

A cup of sugar, a cup of dirt; if you're looking to save money this motherboard won't bite you on the bottom with a glaring lack of features, but it's hardly luxurious.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset Model970
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX, CrossFire
Onboard VideoNo
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots2
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket AM3+
Brand NameMSI
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedPhenom II X3, Phenom II X4, Phenom II X2, Phenom II X6, Sempron, Phenom II, Athlon
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots2
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces6
HyperTransport Speed2400 MHz
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots6
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports8
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports3
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports3
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots4
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Processor TechnologyHyperTransport 3.0 Technology, Cool'n'Quiet Technology, OC Genie Technology
Width305 mm
Depth225 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product Model970A-G45
Product Name970A-G45 Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part Number970A-G45
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.msicomputer.com
Marketing Information

Thank you for choosing the 970A-G45 Series (MS-7693 v1.X) ATX mainboard. The 970A-G45 Series mainboards are based on AMD 970 & SB950 chip sets for optimal system efficiency. Designed to fit the advanced AMD AM3/ AM3+ processors, the 970A-G45 Series deliver a high performance and professional desktop platform solution.