High density ex situ magnesium diboride bulks were synthesized from commercial MgB(2) powder using spark plasma sintering under a range of applied uniaxial pressures between 16 and 80 MPa. The microstructure was characterized using x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, polarized optical microscopy, Vickers hardness measurements, and density measurements using the Archimedes method. By combining these data with those for other bulk samples we have developed a correlation curve for the hardness and density for magnesium diboride for relative densities of 60-100%. The superconducting properties were determined using magnetization measurements. Comparison to samples of significantly higher porosity indicates a positive correlation between magnetization critical current density and bulk density for magnesium diboride bulks up to around 90% density. Above this level other microstructural processes such as grain growth begin to influence the critical current density, suggesting that full elimination of porosity is not necessary to obtain high critical current density. We conclude that the best superconducting properties are likely to be obtained with a combination of small grain size and minimal porosity.