Take a look at the board in full and it has an overall nice black and blue theme to it. As it is designed for mining it has 2 x full size PCIE x16 slots and 4 x PCIE x1 slots to connect up to 6 graphics cards at once.
Taking a closer look at the top half of the board from left to right we of course have the back I/O panel which we will cover more in a bit, MOSFET heatsink, 8PIN power connector, LGA 11500 CPU Socket, 4 x RAM DIMMS that support DDR3 up to 3300MHz in OC mode and finally the 24PIN power connector.
Coming on down to the bottom of the board and we can see all the PCI slots for adding more graphics cards as previous mentioned. Please note that when using a GPU for mining it is not necessary to use a full x16 PCI slot. To connect a GPU to a X1 slot miners use what is called a riser which comes in a few different types, you can get them where they are almost just a ribbon cable with an x1 connector on one end and an x16 on the other, or you can get the more fancy and sought after USB versions. In my experience either will be fine as long as you can meet the power requirements.
We also have our normal host of USB, COM, Fan and front panel connectors running across the very bottom of the board.
The back IO panel of the GUARD-PRO features the normal host of connectors and outputs we would hope to see from a standard Z97 board. We have a PS2 port that can be used for either mouse or keyboard, 2 x USB 2, Gigabite LAN, 4 x USB3, HDMI-DVI-VGA outputs and of course all of the audio connectors.
The GUARD-PRO may be designed for mining but MSI have done a good job of making sure the board isn’t restricted to just mining, as you can see there are still 6 SATA3 ports to make sure we can get all our data!
A close up of the chipset heatsink, basic design but it does it’s job and this motherboard is meant to be more of a work horse rather than a show boat!