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MSI Z87-G43 review

A bargain board with some solid performance figures

Our Verdict

For

  • Solid performance
  • Bargain price
  • CrossFire support
  • Good BIOS

Against

  • No SLI support
  • Only two USB 3.0 ports
  • No DisplayPort

Mobos based on Intel's new Z87 chipset don't come much cheaper than this. In fact, as this issue of PCF hits the presses, Google tells us the only board that undercuts the MSI Z87-G43 is its close MicroATX cousin, the Z87M-G43.

If nothing else, that adds some pleasing symmetry to this month's Z87 groupie, with MSI also topping the price table with the £350 XPower monster - which in turn provides a handy reminder that MSI is a pukka outfit that operates across all parts of the motherboard market.

Cut-price the G43 may be, but it's still a big-brand board. It's also immediately jauntier than its closest competition: the intriguing Asrock Z87 Extreme3 and the flaky Gigabyte Z87-D3HP. That's partly because it's full ATX width, so it doesn't immediately remind you of its budget positioning by virtue of looking a bit of a wrong 'un. But it's also because MSI has made a virtue of the cheap, dark and sludgy PCB, by pairing it with a mix of black and electric blue slots and sockets.

Anyway, if we can discard the Gigabyte Z87-D3HP from the equation, on account of its shonky all-round demeanour, the task at hand is taking the fight to that Asrock Z87 Extreme3.

Immediately, we're stumbling on account of MSI's lack of support for Nvidia's SLI multi-GPU tech. We've always had mixed feelings about any multi-GPU graphics solution. No question, you're better off with one faster graphics card that a pair of slower alternatives, but it still makes sense sometimes.

Maybe you suddenly get the chance to snag a duplicate of your current card for a knock-down price. Whatever, SLI and its AMD Crossfire nemesis are examples of features you might not use but still want to have as options. MSI only gives you a shot at Crossfire.

Disconnected

Point your peepers at the rear panel and the G43 is in even more danger of going bottom over breast. There's just a pair of USB 3.0 ports. The other six are crusty old USB 2.0 items. Eugh. Again, there's no DisplayPort, which the Asrock also lacks, and no S/PDIF, which you do get from Asrock.

On the other hand, you get essentially the same UEFI BIOS screen that comes with other MSI boards and we're generally in favour of, not to mention MSI's so-called military class components including all solid caps.

And there's MSI's mixing up of the SATA ports, with four stacked vertically and the final two side-by-side. Put it all together and it feels like Asrock has the edge, until you think performance.

Benchmarks

The G43 is whisker behind on overclocking potential but trumps the Asrock for stock clocked performance, including a truly exceptional result in our Shogun: Total War 2 gaming benchmark. In fact, it's so fast in Shogun, the result almost looks anomalous. But it's quick in Cinebench and x264 HD video encoding too, so we'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Multi-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 8.03
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 8.34
Asus Z87-Pro: 8.05
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 8.06
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 8.05
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 8.11
MSI Z87-G43: 8.5
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 8.48
MSI Z87 XPower: 8.5

Single-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 1.75
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 1.75
Asus Z87-Pro: 1.76
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 1.75
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 1.72
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 1.77
MSI Z87-G43: 1.72
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 1.71
MSI Z87 XPower: 1.72

Video encode performance
X264 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 45.5
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 46.3
Asus Z87-Pro: 45.6
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 45.5
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 45.5
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 45.7
MSI Z87-G43: 45.7
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 46.5
MSI Z87 XPower: 47.5

Memory bandwidth @ optimised defults
SiSoft Sandra: Gigabytes per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 17.38
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 17.24
Asus Z87-Pro: 17.47
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 17.25
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 17.45
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 17.56
MSI Z87-G43: 17.32
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 17.2
MSI Z87 XPower: 17.39

Gaming performance
Shogun: Total War 2: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 38.4
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 39.4
Asus Z87-Pro: 38.1
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 34.5
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 37.1
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 37.9
MSI Z87-G43: 44.6
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 38.9
MSI Z87 XPower: 39.5

Maximum overclock performance
4770K: Gigahertz: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 4.7
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 4.7
Asus Z87-Pro: 4.7
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 4.0
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 4.7
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 4.5
MSI Z87-G43: 4.6
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 4.6
MSI Z87 XPower: 4.7

Verdict

All of which means you're making a choice between a board that's probably going to be slightly faster and one that offers more features including Nvidia SLI support, which could be critical. You pays your money. You takes your choice.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ87 Express
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots2
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H3 LGA-1150
Brand NameMSI
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedCore i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron, Xeon
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory64 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots3
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller Memory1.72 GB
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces6
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots7
HDMIYes
DVIYes
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 Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 3.0, PCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots4
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Country of OriginChina
Width305 mm
Depth244 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product ModelZ87-G43
Product NameZ87-G43 Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part Number7816-010R
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.msicomputer.com
Marketing Information

Intel® Z87 Express Chipset

  • Supports 4th Gen Intel® Core™/Pentium®/Celeron® processors for LGA 1150 socket
  • Supports DDR3-3000(OC)
  • Memory USB 3.0 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Military Class 4: Top Quality & Stability Military Class Essentials: Total Protection for Military Class Motherboards
  • OC Genie 4: Overclock in 1 Second
  • Click BIOS 4: Easily Fine-tune Your System
  • 4K UHD Support: Ultra-high Definition Visual Experience
  • 3 Display Outputs: HDMI/DVI/D-Sub Support
  • PCI Express Gen 3: World's 1st PCI Express Gen 3 Motherboard Brand
  • Multi-GPU: AMD CrossFire Support
  • Sound Blaster Cinema: Realistic Surround Sound Experience
  • Command Center: Control & Customize Your PC Settings
  • Fast Boot: Quickly Boot Up & Enter OS in A Few Seconds
  • Super RAID: Easily Setup & Configure Intel Technologies