MSI Z77A-G43 review
At £70, the MSI Z77A-G43 is an altogether more affordable proposition than the excellent, but pricey Asus P8Z77-V Pro. You don't get many high-end features for your cash, with no wireless module or on-board power and reset buttons.
The budget price also means that the specification is a little limited. Of the two PCI Express x16 slots, only one runs at x16 speed, with the second only able to run at 4x speed. That means there isn't enough bandwidth for dual graphics, and in fact MSI hasn't made this feature available.
Elsewhere, there are two PCI Express x1 slots and, unusually, a trio of PCI slots, which makes the MSI a fine board for handling legacy expansion cards. There are only two SATA 6Gbits/sec second sockets - the Asus has four - and they're partnered with four SATA 6Gbits/sec sockets.
The rear panel isn't as extensive as the Asus', either. There are two USB 3 sockets rather than four, six USB 2 ports, and no sign of DisplayPort. Video outputs are limited to HDMI, DVI-D and D-SUB.
In our benchmarks, meanwhile, the MSI wasn't quite as quick. It was only a couple of MB/sec off the pace in the storage tests, but with a result of 1.09 in our application benchmarks (with a 3.5GHz Intel Core i7-3770K installed) it lagged 7% behind the Asus, and its 44fps score in the Low quality Crysis test was six frames off the pace.
Still, the MSI has enough features to put together a reasonably powerful system and, when the price is factored in, it's a tempting bargain. If the Asus is too expensive, this is a capable, and cheaper, alternative.
Author: Mike Jennings
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