Remember a time when we used to be able to overclock an air cooled system for results that would beat a PC that cost twice as much? Of course, back then things were slightly different, and the motherboards we performed these feats on seemed a little more hardy than many of today’s offerings.
MSI newest board, the Z97 Guard-PRO, is an old-school overclocker though, that can squeeze out some pretty impressive results thanks to its stability and features.
It’s an ATX board with an ll50 socket for 4th and 5th generation Intel processors and the titular Z97 chipset There are six SATA 6Gb/s and an M.2 port, with SATA5 and 6 being unavailable when an M.2 drive is fitted, one PCI-E 3.0 1 6x slot, one PCI-E 2.0 16x slot. and four PCI-E 2.0 lx slots. Four DDR DIMM slots provide a maximum of 32GB of 3300MHz(overclocked) memory, and four USB 3.0 ports on the back, along with two USB 2.0 ports, make for an decent enough base on which to build a good all-round system,.
To get the best overclocking from this board, MSI has included a six-phase Pulse Width Modulation controller to help prevent damage to the components over time. Added to that is the MSI Military Class 4 high quality components, extra circuitry protection, a coated PCB for humidity protection, and further protection from Electro Static Discharges. There’s even an Eco Power element in place that can save you up to 29% off the standard power usage — although not necessarily when overclocking the socks off a CPU.
Using an Intel Anniversary K-Edition Pentium G3258, there’s a good chance of being able to overclock it up to 4.5GHz (even slightly beyond) purely on air cooling. Admittedly we didn’t want to push it too far, our days of laughing heartily as a chip goes well beyond the 80°C mark, followed by a loud pop are over, and we’ll leave that for the more youthful and daring among you.
However, the emphasis here is on stability and higher than standard grade components. When used correctly, the MSI Z97 Guard PRO is an astonishingly good and value for money solution for a system that’s expected to remain on for longer than normal periods of time, not to mention the overclocking options. As MSI state clearly on the packaging for the Guard-PRO, this a board that is also aimed at those who mine for cryptocurrencies with all SIX PCI slots being able to be used at once while still providing optimum space for airflow.
Included into the mix is MSI’s proprietary software, in the form of the MSI Command Centre. With this you can perform all manner of one-click overclocking, fine tuning, driver updating, and configure an unlimited RAM DISK function. To add to the Eco function we mentioned earlier, the Eco Centre will allow the hardware to turn off unused chips and functions on the motherboard, to help further decrease your electrical bill.
For around $100, depending on where you shop, the MSI Z97 Guard-PRO proves to be an effective and low cost motherboard to build an incredibly stable system or a server with, or a system for overclocking or Bitcoin mining.