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MSI Motherboard Questions

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  • Motherboards
  • MSI
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June 21, 2014 5:53:00 AM

Good Evening

I have just finished building my Gaming Rig and I have already F'ed up in regards to my Motherboard purchase. Before correcting my purchase and wasting another $150 - $200 I thought I would seek some advice.

My current RIG
CPU: Intel Core i5 4670k
Motherboard: MSI B85-G43 Gaming
Current GPU: MSI Radeon r9 280x
(Future GPU: Dual MSI Radeon r9 280x CROSSFIRE)

I had to find out the hard way that even tho MSI make it sound like you can overclock the B85 with the OC Genie 4 which offers a VERY VERY minor OC, not to mention completely automatic.

I am currently looking at 4 different MSI MOBO. (Aus Prices)
1) MSI Z87-G45 $169
2) MSI Z97 Gaming 3 $185
3) MSI Z97-G45 $198
4) MSI Z97 Gaming 5 $213

I can only see EXTREMELY minor differences when comparing so my first thought is to go with the MSI Z87-G45 for the lower price point; however, I have been in the hurt locker recently by going by my research.

The only differences I can see is the following:
*Z97 series is obviously newer
*Z97 Gaming 3 only has 2 PCI-E 16 3.0 slots
*G45 = mSATA // Gaming 3&5 = M.2 Ports

Can anyone please explain where my money would go if I was to spend a little more then the Z87-G45?
BIOS?
OC usability & functionality?


I am looking at a moderate CPU overclock 4400+ & Max GPU Overclock via MSI Afterburner

Any insight would be greatly appreciated by myself and my wallet :) 

More about : msi motherboard questions

a b 4 Gaming
a b V Motherboard
June 21, 2014 6:14:53 AM

I'll recomnend Asus Z87/Z97-A LGA 1150 motherboard instead, great choice for overclocking without paying a heavy premium and I belive Asus makes solid LGA 1150 boards

But if those are the only options then Z87-G45 will be sufficient for overclocking i5-4670k with its 8-Phase CPU power design. Though if you can opt for Z97-G45.
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June 21, 2014 6:33:10 AM

My main question would be, is there any benefit for spending additional money on option 2/3/4? and if so why?

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a b V Motherboard
June 21, 2014 6:33:22 AM

Well, if you dont plan to make a multi-gpu setup, less PCI-e slots means nothing. As far as i know Gaming 3 doesn't support SLI but it supports Crossfire. Still it has 1 gen3 x16 slot and 1 gen2 x16 slot. Also it has fairly weaker VRM. Still enough for mild overclock around 4.4 Ghz though but the vrm are will heat up a bit, since it has 3 true phase design in real but with the use of doubler driver they made it look 6 phases. All of the manufacturers do that actually.

G45 and Gaming 5 has 4 true phases analog pwm design doubled to 8, 8x on-semi powerpak mosfets which are decent and 8x high quality 60 amp inductors. Unless you are into breaking overlocking records, this vrm is very capable. But not the best in this price range. (for instance Gigabyte Gaming 5 has a better vrm overall)

Also afaik dedicated gaming usb ports are 2.0 on z97 as well. Some of the usb keyboards and mice still might cause problems with usb3 so it would be stupid if they make those ports 3.0. And still, usb 2.0 is more than enough for gaming equipment.

If you really don't plan to use an M.2 storage device in the future or upgrade your cpu to a broadwell (8 chipset might support broadwells though but we still not sure) z87 would do the trick for you. But there are also some minor advantages of z97 boards. No doubt that manufactureres found some time to enhance their designs and optimize the power regulation further, since these two chipsets are really the same in the heart. I don't think that would effect the overclock potential of the board though (since most of the times you are limited by your cpu chip) but it would effect the stability, power consumption and efficiency for sure. So I'd always suggest a z97 board.

Z87-g45 is a decent board though and can handle a 4.4 GHz overclock without a problem. But if you can pay a little more z97 gaming 5 would be a better choice. Also it has slightly better onboard solution. Both has realtek's alc1150 codec though, but this time around MSI employed a really top notch nichicon audio caps for z97 gaming series motherboards. These caps are the ones that are used on studio grade equipments.

Update: Between Z97-A and Gaming 5. Gaming 5 is slightly better in vrm department and also better audio components.
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a b 4 Gaming
a b V Motherboard
June 21, 2014 6:45:27 AM

JeremyAus said:
My main question would be, is there any benefit for spending additional money on option 2/3/4? and if so why?



Z87-G45 will be sufficient for overclocking of i5-4670k and also supports Crossfire and SLI. You'll get same overclocking results as with Z97-G43 & Z97 Gaming 5 (both have same CPU power phase design), Z97-G43 will offer better upgrade path in future and also stable overclock as compared to Z87-G43. Asus Z97-A(Digital) has better CPU power phase design than MSI Z97 Gaming 5(Analog) though,supports SLI and Crossfire and overall will be a better choice than MSI Z97-G43 and Z97 Gaming 5.
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June 21, 2014 7:01:39 AM

feelingtheblanks said:
Well, if you dont plan to make a multi-gpu setup, less PCI-e slots means nothing. As far as i know Gaming 3 doesn't support SLI but it supports Crossfire. Still it has 1 gen3 x16 slot and 1 gen2 x16 slot. Also it has fairly weaker VRM. Still enough for mild overclock around 4.4 Ghz though but the vrm are will heat up a bit, since it has 3 true phase design in real but with the use of doubler driver they made it look 6 phases. All of the manufacturers do that actually.

G45 and Gaming 5 has 4 true phases analog pwm design doubled to 8, 8x on-semi powerpak mosfets which are decent and 8x high quality 60 amp inductors. Unless you are into breaking overlocking records, this vrm is very capable. But not the best in this price range. (for instance Gigabyte Gaming 5 has a better vrm overall)

Also afaik dedicated gaming usb ports are 2.0 on z97 as well. Some of the usb keyboards and mice still might cause problems with usb3 so it would be stupid if they make those ports 3.0. And still, usb 2.0 is more than enough for gaming equipment.

If you really don't plan to use an M.2 storage device in the future or upgrade your cpu to a broadwell (8 chipset might support broadwells though but we still not sure) z87 would do the trick for you. But there are also some minor advantages of z97 boards. No doubt that manufactureres found some time to enhance their designs and optimize the power regulation further, since these two chipsets are really the same in the heart. I don't think that would effect the overclock potential of the board though (since most of the times you are limited by your cpu chip) but it would effect the stability, power consumption and efficiency for sure. So I'd always suggest a z97 board.

Z87-g45 is a decent board though and can handle a 4.4 GHz overclock without a problem. But if you can pay a little more z97 gaming 5 would be a better choice. Also it has slightly better onboard solution. Both has realtek's alc1150 codec though, but this time around MSI employed a really top notch nichicon audio caps for z97 gaming series motherboards. These caps are the ones that are used on studio grade equipments.

Update: Between Z97-A and Gaming 5. Gaming 5 is slightly better in vrm department and also better audio components.


Thank you very much for the detailed answer which provided some great insight on the differences between the boards. Your info ruled out the Z87 and the Gaming 3.

Realistically the only difference between the Z97-G45 and Z97 Gaming 5 is the M.2 and the mSATA ports?

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a b V Motherboard
June 21, 2014 9:38:45 AM

maktovic said:
JeremyAus said:
My main question would be, is there any benefit for spending additional money on option 2/3/4? and if so why?



Z87-G45 will be sufficient for overclocking of i5-4670k and also supports Crossfire and SLI. You'll get same overclocking results as with Z97-G43 & Z97 Gaming 5 (both have same CPU power phase design), Z97-G43 will offer better upgrade path in future and also stable overclock as compared to Z87-G43. Asus Z97-A(Digital) has better CPU power phase design than MSI Z97 Gaming 5(Analog) though,supports SLI and Crossfire and overall will be a better choice than MSI Z97-G43 and Z97 Gaming 5.


We don't know if Asus z97-A has a digital pwm or not. Since they decided to rename the controller and hide specifications for some unknown reason. Even the doubler driver is hidden. And moreover that controller doesn't look like a known digital controller models we know of (from IR or Chil). So well, sorry but I don't trust Asus's deceptive marketing here. I'll believe my own eyes.

And also a digital pwm doesn't neccesarily mean better than an analog one.

Actually an analog controller is faster, has better frequency switching and also easily programmable. If you have good engineers you can program an analog pwm to perform better and more efficient than a digital one.

Well, I guess this happens when you just read some little bit information particles over the internet. :) 

Also controller doesn't mean anything. Since it's just one part of the vrm.

There are mosfets. z97-A has tad less efficient lfpak mosfets than Gaming 5's on-semi powerpak packages.

There are inductors. z97-A has some generic 28A chokes while MSI employs 60A chokes.

For capacitors they are about the same. Both have 5k rated solid polymer caps.

So how you found out z97-A has better vrm. Actually Gaming 5 has more output potential.

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