MSI Z87-G45 Gaming ReviewBluePanda -
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MSI Z87-G45 Conclusion:
In the end the MSI Z87-G45 was a pretty nice board. Riding in line behind the MSI Z87-GD65, it has a lot of waterfall expectations for itself. I felt that it held up to those expectations rather well, and for the $30 savings from the GD65 to the G45, it's hard to not argue for it. Out of the box it has a three-year warranty, so there isn't any humming and hawing at the idea that something might go wrong. If it is three years and a day when it does finally go, I'll just be impressed that an upgrade hadn't made its way through yet. The price is right in the ballpark for a quality OCing motherboard that has enough power and cooling to get things done right. It's not overly glorified with a ton of tacky gold capacitors, but rather just a nice authentic red and black gaming-esque show piece.
The BIOS to me was ultimately frustrating, but that isn't a factor I can really call a con. I'm a fan of the more classic blue with white text BIOS that requires nothing but a keyboard to navigate. Fortunately the UEFI BIOS does let you navigate just like that; you do not have to use a mouse, though the BIOS is clearly drawn to be used in that manner. The dragon from the box, the board, and the BIOS all line up for a clear cut theme; something I was quite fond of. In general the BIOS was easy enough to figure out and get things setup the right way. There were so many settings available that it was a little more tricky to OC, but it did give me the ability to get a solid stable 4.6GHz with the tweaking of just a couple settings, whereas had they not been there (or forced auto) wouldn't have been successful. It's quite the board for any true enthusist looking to work out all the little details and get just that little bit more from their OC.
The included features of Audio Boost and all the added software packages both on disk and available on MSI's website were a nice touch. Some of the products were a little finicky getting to work, the Sound Blaster Cinema suite didn't want to install properly the first or second time and still had a few bugs on the third install. It's no surprise as Creative hasn't seemed to make any headway over the years in its often buggy software builds. This problem didn't really kill it for me.
The hardware in this case matters a little more and was more than suitable for a board of this caliber. The MSI Command Center package was rather impressive, though I prefer (and recommend) not overclocking anywhere but in the BIOS. The idea of changing these settings while running your OS is just beyond me; it's like asking to corrupt files. I guess the real main advantage to all this is the ability to down clock a bit or down to stock on-the-fly without a restart. It could really aid in finailzing that OC, but still has that scary feeling like when drives first had the ability to be "hot-swappable" - really, I can unplug this running drive? AND plug in a new one? It's just interesting how technology pushes the envelope on the things we all knew as "no-nos".
In the end the MSI Z87-G45 comes with quite a lot to offer. The price sits just below the GD65 and loses only a few features, some cared more for than others. The overall board appears about the same minus the heat pipes on the VRMs and a couple OC Genie buttons, so you can't deny the looks of this board unless you hate dragons or don't want red in your case. The voltage check points on the board, Audio Boost technology, Killer Network features, and an awesome three-year warenty is well worth putting up the little extra cash from what you might normally get.
- DRAGON!! Really though, neat themed look rather than plastering MSI all over
- UEFI (some of you like this)
- OC Genie for quick clocks
- Advanced Audio - Audio Boost
- Lots of voltage options and frequency settings to find the ultimate OC
- Well labeled board for troubleshooting ports or finding the right pins
- Audio Boost logo lights up in PINK!!
- UEFI (I still feel this fits in both categories)
- PCB is actually brown - not black