MSI Z87 Motherboard Roundup: Rockin Haswell

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Like ASUS’ ROG series, MSI’s Z87 gaming motherboards have a red and black color scheme. The PCB of the MSI Z87-G45 is a sort of faint reddish black with black and metallic red accents, and the southbridge is covered with a sharp dragon logo. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s a modest assortment of heatsinks around the CPU socket; there are simply two modestly-sized passive heatsinks on the power array, although the heatsinks cleverly form that same dragon shape if you look at them sideways.

MSI Z87-G45 Gaming
Specifications & Features
CPU:
Chipset:
Memory:

Onboard Graphics:




Audio:
LAN:
Expansion Slots:


Storage:

USB:

Form Factor:
Price:
4th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors for LGA 1150 socket
Intel Z87 Express Chipset
Supports two DDR3 DIMMs 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2000*/2133*/2200*/2400*/2600*/2666*/2800*/3000* (*OC) MHz,
   up to 32GB Max
Supports Dual-Channel mode; non-ECC, un-buffered memory; Intel XMP
1 x VGA port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200 @60Hz, 24bpp
1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200 @60Hz, 24bpp
1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160 @24Hz, 24bpp/ 2560x1600@60Hz,
   24bpp/ 1920x1080@60Hz, 36bpp
Realtek ALC1150 Codec (7.1-Channel High Definition Audio)
Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN controller
3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
Supports 3-Way AMD CrossFireTM Technology, 2-Way NVIDIA SLI Technology
Supports one SATA ports (SATA1~6) by Z87, up to 6Gb/s transfer speed
1 x mSATA port
6 x USB 3.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB connectors)
8 x USB 2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 6 ports available through the internal USB connectors)
ATX
About $145

The board supports up to 32GB of DDR3-3000 (OC) RAM, and there are plenty of expansion slots. There are three PCIe x16 slots, which support up to three-way CrossFire or two-way SLI setups, as well as four PCIe x1 slots for everything else. MSI included VGA Boost software that lets you easily goose your graphics card clocks, as long as that card is MSI-branded.

The Z87 chipset supports six SATA 6Gbps ports (and one mSATA port) as well as a total of fourteen USB ports--six USB 3.0 and eight USB 2.0.

The Z87-G45 has a Realtek ALC1150 codec that supports 7.1 channel HD audio, but MSI also loaded the board with Audio Boost, which consists of a headphone amplifier, gold-plated jacks, and audio circuitry that’s isolated from other circuits on the board to avoid interference. It also features Sound Blaster Cinema software, like the Z87I.

Around back, the Z87-G45 sports a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0, four USB 3.0, coax and optical S/PDIF, six audio jacks, and a clear CMOS button. Of the three onboard video ports, the VGA and DVI-D support max resolutions of 1920x1200, while the HDMI port can handle 4K resolutions; any two can be paired up to support a second display.

  

The LAN port boasts a Killer E2200 networking chip that prioritizes game traffic for low latency. In terms of gaming features, MSI also tricked out the PS/2 and USB 2.0 ports for high polling rate mice to support response times as low as 1 millisecond.

MSI didn’t include much in the box other than the manual, driver disc, quick start guide, two SATA cables, I/O shield, a gaming case badge, and a Do Not Disturb door hanger.

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