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Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

Z77A-G45 Applications

MSI has shifted more of its attention to freeware and trial software in the Z77A-G45. The company still has a few applications of its own, however, though a few of them simply replicate Windows features.

For example, MSI Easy Viewer and Video Genie are very basic photo viewing and gamma-correcting apps. They’re redundant to our system’s basic operating system and driver features.

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Live Update 5 is slightly more useful, as it can be set to automatically locate driver and BIOS updates. Selecting the “Total Installer” button allows manually-checked updates to be downloaded and installed semi-automatically.

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MSI Network Genie provides very basic packet prioritization control. The simplified menu is probably more than most users need, but we have a feeling that those who like it may eventually begin searching for additional features.

MSI spent a bunch of time marketing “Click BIOS II”, a Windows-based program that replicates its firmware menu. It’s unfortunately very slow to respond when used with this version of the Z77A-G45 firmware. It changes firmware settings and, like firmware, requires a reboot to affect those changes.

MSI uses the same THX TruStudio Pro package as Biostar, with the same range of benefits.

While Intel scales back it’s Lucidlogix software to the Virtu Universal package, MSI doesn’t offer it at all. Though it is on the installation disk, Virtu MVP installs only in trial mode and can’t be registered.

  • SpadeM
    LAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    SpadeMLAN performance .. ISC performance ... USB 3 .. well that's it then.Tom's Hardware has several controller comparisons, and publishes new ones frequently. So unless you think one of the boards has a broken controller, wysiwyg.

    The things that actually get screwed-up are typically related to the clock generator, multiplier control, memory timings and power options.
    Reply
  • nikorr
    I would place the ASRock and Gigabyte on the top as well : )

    Nice review.
    Reply
  • jaquith
    I always appreciate your Articles! :) I know how much work you do to get them done.

    You're kidding - Biostar. I guess this article is not about the 'Best Sub-$160 Z77' MOBO's but about the best manufacturers sent you. The cheapest MOBO I recommend for the SB/IB (K) is the ASUS P8Z77-V which pops your 'unique' budget cap depending where you shop; found it here for $159.99 - http://www.gadgetneeds.net/asus-p8z77-v-atx-intel-motherboard/

    Interesting you didn't get an ASUS P8Z77-V LK ~$120 which offers SLI. The ASRock Z77 Extreme4 and Gigabyte Z77X-D3H for the price aren't bad.

    There's NO WAY I'm recommending Biostar in the forum, folks and myself would thing I've lost my mind.
    Reply
  • jimishtar
    It would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jimishtarIt would be nice to see the CPU voltage for every board when overclocking.1.25V
    Reply
  • gorillagarrett
    No peripherals performance tests? Those are the only tests that differentiate those motherboards from each other.

    Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    gorillagarrettNo peripherals performance tests? Those are the only tests that differentiate those motherboards from each other. Would really like to see how the UD3X Atheros Ethernet controller fares against the Intel and broadcom ones.I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared :)
    Reply
  • gorillagarrett
    I'll let the integrated controller guy know you'd like to see those parts compared

    Thank you!
    Reply
  • rolli59
    I would have liked to see the Asus P8Z77V-LK version instead of the LX since it is better equipped.
    Reply