Design and Features
While we like the packaging and accessories of the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING, its own appearance is hardly pleasing, as is the case with all gaming products from MSI, actually. There are only a few red elements enlivening this gloomy black mainboard. In fact, even regular MSI products look better with their colorful memory slots, expansion slots and onboard USB 3.0 headers.
Besides a few special features typical of MSI’s gaming series, the Z87-G45 GAMING can be commended for fully using all the capabilities of the Intel Z87 chipset it is based on. It supports LGA1150 processors, powering them via an 8-phase digital power system with premium Military Class 4 components. Its four DDR3 slots can take in up to 32 gigabytes of system memory, clocking it at up to 3000 MHz. A single discrete graphics card installed on this mainboard will use its PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot at the latter’s full speed. Two graphics cards would use their slots at x8 speed each, and with three cards the speed formula for the PCIe x16 slots is x8/x8/x4. The Z87-G45 GAMING allows building both AMD CrossFireX and Nvidia SLI configurations. Besides the graphics slots, it offers four PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots for expansion cards. Storage devices can be connected to the mainboard’s six SATA 6 Gbit/s ports and one mSATA connector (using the latter disables one of the SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, though).
The following components can be found on the mainboard’s back panel:
- PS/2 port for keyboard or mouse
- Two USB 2.0 ports (and six more can be output via the three onboard headers)
- Clear CMOS button
- D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI video outputs
- Gigabit Ethernet port (based on a Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 controller)
- Four USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors, based on the Intel Z87 chipset; two more USB 3.0 ports can be output via the onboard header)
- Coaxial and optical S/PDIF connectors and six analog audio connectors (based on an 8-channel Realtek ALC1150 codec)
Besides the Gigabit Ethernet controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 which provides network traffic management capabilities, MSI’s gaming products feature MSI Audio Boost technology which encompasses an advanced 8-channel audio codec Realtek ALC1150 (SNR = 115 dB), an integrated amplifier TI OPA1652, premium capacitors and gold-plated back-panel connectors.
We can count up five 4-pin fan connectors in the mainboard’s schematic. Two of them are meant for a CPU cooler, but they can't regulate 3-pin fans. The three system fan connectors support 3-pin regulation. One more special feature of this mainboard is that you can manually measure its voltage via the V-Check Spots which are not indicated in the schematic but can be seen in the photos. They are next to the mainboard's power connector.
You can see the specifications of the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING in the summary table below: