MSI H97M-G43 and Intel Pentium G3258
Small and Overclockable: Intel Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition
For the 20th anniversary of the Pentium, Intel released a cool entry-level CPU for hardware enthusiasts. We've already established in our previous stories about the processor that this is a rare piece of equipment from the more conservative company.
Previously, if you wanted to overclock a budget CPU, AMD was your only outlet. Its Athlon X4 750K/760K fared well, even if it was hot at 100 W. Finally, Intel showed up to compete in this space, though.
Depending on your luck (where on the wafer your CPU die comes from, among other factors), up to 4.7 GHz can be achieved with the Pentium G3258 if you're willing to push crazy voltages. Aside from the two G3258s tested in our SoCal lab, the Tom's Hardware Germany team experimented with an additional five and found that all of them hit 4.4 GHz without a voltage increase. Only a multiplier adjustment was needed, and the motherboard automatically increases the core voltage, if needed.
A Suitable Platform: MSI's H97M-G43 + Custom BIOS
For the record, Intel only allows mainboards with the more expensive Z-series chipset to sport overclocking functionality. But for end users, it doesn’t make sense to put a $67 entry-level CPU on a high-end motherboard. Find out how to use an inexpensive H-series motherboard anyway, with this one weird trick:
You can use this motherboard for overclocking if you flash it with the BIOS from one of the following download links. This BIOS is not officially supported by MSI and was purportedly leaked from MSI’s R&D department.Using the leaked, unofficial BIOS may void your motherboard’s warranty and MSI support cannot be contacted about any issues arising from its use. You have been warned!
While not officially supported, it worked perfectly. We found the unofficial BIOS at various file hosting sites, all of which hosted the very same image:
|MSI H97M-G43 BIOS Download Links|
Naturally, a $90 motherboard doesn’t sport a luxury-grade bundle, but everything you need is there: an ATX I/O shield, two SATA cables, a comprehensive manual, a quick-start guide, and a CD containing drivers and tools.
Since the two 16x PCIe slots are amply spaced, a CrossFire setup seems possible. However, the USB and HD Audio connectors would interfere with the second graphics card. Plus, most mATX enclosures have room for only four expansion slots; that bottom card could only be one slot-wide to work.
Then again, if you're on a budget, buying a Pentium and an inexpensive motherboard, multi-GPU arrays probably aren't on the menu anyway. Rather, this platform is aimed at a more value-oriented demographic.
Apart from the typical six-channel analog audio jacks, you also get an optical output. There are four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, one combined PS/2 port for a keyboard or mouse, and one GbE jack.