With USB3 and SATA3, this outstanding microATX motherboard combines a great range of features and plenty of flexible options for overclocking.
AM3, microATX, AMD 890GX chipset, supports: Athlon II, Phenom II, Phenom II X6, Sempron
MSI has crammed plenty of features on to this AM3 microATX motherboard, including USB3 and a full complement of five SATA III ports. The BIOS supports the latest hexacore AMD Phenom II processors as well as providing a full complement of overclocking options, including the ability to save your own BIOS profiles.
There are two PCI-E x16 slots – they’ll both run at 8x if you have two cards in them, though. There’s also one PCI and one PCI-E x1 slot, although the latter will be blocked if you install a large graphics card. That means you’ll probably be limited to using the PCI or second PCI-E x16 slots for any extra expansion cards you want. Four memory slots can take up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM running at a maximum speed of 2133MHz.
The integrated ATI Radeon HD 4290 only managed a frame rate of 3.5fps in Call of Duty 4, so it’s clearly not up to 3D gaming. However, it’s well equipped for either dual-monitor or home cinema use, with VGA and DVI outputs as well as an HDMI port capable outputting full HD video and full lossless 24bit/192kHz Blu-ray quality audio. There are also six 3.5mm stereo outputs for the built-in Realtek ALC889, which the driver can configure for 5.1 surround sound audio with a mic input or 7.1 surround sound without. There’s also an optical S/PDIF output if you need a digital audio connection to your speakers.
The backplane also provides six USB ports, including two USB3 ports. A PS/2 port means that you won’t necessarily have to use of your precious USB ports for a keyboard or mouse. There’s also an eSATA port. Performance in our tests was good, with an Overall score of 120. If you’re after a fast, flexible and easy-to-overclock microATX motherboard of any AM3 processor, this is one of the best you’ll find.
|Processor support||Athlon II, Phenom II, Phenom II X6, Sempron|
|Processor external bus||260MHz (2.6GHz HyperTransport)|
|Chipset north bridge||AMD 890GX|
|Chipset south bridge||AMD SB850|
|Passively-cooled north bridge||yes|
|Supported memory type||DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600(OC)/1800(OC)/2133(OC)|
|Maximum memory speed||PC3-17066|
|Power connectors||1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 4-pin ATX|
|PCI-E x16 slots||2|
|Dual graphics architecture||Hybrid CrossFireX|
|PCI-E x4 slots||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots||1|
|Serial ATA ports||5|
|RAID chipset (max disks)||AMD SB850 (5x SATA III, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Sound (ports)||Realtek ALC889 (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF out)|
|USB2 ports / headers||6/4|
|Firewire ports / headers||0/0|
|Legacy ports||1x PS/2, serial, parallel header|
|Other ports||1x eSATA, 2x USB3, 5xSATA III, VGA, DVI, HDMI|
|Cables included||1x SATA, 1x IDE, 1x Molex to SATA power|
Setup and Overclocking
|CPU clock max adjustment||500MHz|