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Seven Sub-$160 Z77 Express Motherboards, Reviewed


MSI’s UEFI hasn’t changed noticeably in the past year, still placing the greatest visual priority on the system clock and the least visual priority on truly useful settings. Fortunately, the array of available settings is plentiful.

Base clock and CPU multiplier controls top the Z77A-G45’s OC menu. We were able to reach 4.65 GHz at our target 1.25 V when pairing these settings with a Vdroop Offset Control of 100%.

Unfortunately, we found that set voltage levels weren’t accurate whatsoever, requiring 1.235 V CPU core and 1.6330 V DIMM settings to reach our desired 1.25 V and 1.65 V. Using the 1.25 V setting with a lower Vdroop Offset Control simply allowed the CPU voltage to drop under load while remaining high at idle.

The Z77A-G45 allows the CPU multiplier to be raised as other features of Intel Turbo Boost technology are disabled.

Individual memory timings can be left in auto mode, while others are manually configured. MSI also allows XMP profiles to set the timings baseline by choosing the profile first, then manually altering other values (including memory ratio).

Up to six custom firmware configurations can be saved on the Z77A-G45 as overclocking profiles.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.