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MSI 890GXM-G65 Review

jlqrb    -   April 29, 2010
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The MSI 890GXM-G65 is a very impressive motherboard that, even with its small size, managed to perform neck and neck with the enthusiast grade Asus M4A79T motherboard. This was true for the gaming benchmarks and number crunching benchmarks alike. During the gaming performance tests, the two boards battled it out and even though the 790FX chipset performed better in 3D applications, it was only by the smallest of margins. However, when it came to comparing the boards in number crunching benchmarks, the MSI 890GXM-G65 was the clear winner. This board, with the same settings as the Asus, rendered faster, crunched numbers quicker and, in everything but 3D performance, was ahead of the 790FX chipset. More impressive though was how it did not just out perform the 790FX chipset, but all previous AMD chipsets. Making this product absolutely ideal for users looking for a fast motherboard that does not carry the high premium of the enthusiast FX line, yet still maintains the high level of performance.

The fact that the board performs so well even with a mATX form factor gives it a much wider appeal, as it could make it ideal for use in a Home Theater PC. Not only is it small enough to fit into the smaller cases that most HTPC users prefer, but it also comes with the strong-performing ATI Raedon HD 4290 IGP that has more than enough video connectivity for any type of user, including an HDMI port that supports full HD video and audio. Along with the ATI HD 4290 the board also comes with some new goodies that were not available on previous AMD motherboards. These new features come in the form of native SATA 3.0 support through the SB850 southbridge and an on-board NEC chip that supports two USB 3.0 ports. Both of which are faster than their predecessors and add extra value to the board, as well as makes for some future proofing. With these technologies you will also get some nice additional features, such as MSI's Easy Overclocking Switch. This switch will allow you to overclock your system without even having to enter the BIOS. All you need to do is simply place the switches into one of the four preset positions and it will overclock the FSB depending on the position (+10%, +15% or +20%) for instant performance gains. Also, thanks to the high quality parts MSI uses, this is one mATX motherboard that will support all AM3 processors, including ones with a 140W TDP. This is great for users looking to use AMD's high-end quad-core processors or those that are planning on picking up the new six-core processors that have been recently released. Also, if your budget does allow for extra cores, MSI has included with thier latest BIOS release a unlock core option, which can unlock the disabled cores on a processor.

The MSI 890GXM-G65 is a great board, without a doubt, but there were a few things that held the board back from the gold. The main issue I had was that the board was not the strongest overclocker and even with the latest BIOS that was designed to improve the overclocking issue, it could still not match the majority of motherboards I have used. This is not to say that you cannot get a great overclock, because you can, it's just that you might be a few MHz shy of what some other boards might grant you.  Also, if you are a hard-core gamer and intend to use dual-slot graphics cards with this motherboard, it will block the additional expansion slots. However, since this board is mATX, I would say that support for CrossFireX is more of a pro than the blocking of the the additional slots is a con. Other than these minor gripes, I was hard pressed to find any issues with the board. With its performance in both gaming and number crunching, a price point of just $125, and the mATX form factor, it is perfect for those looking for a powerful system, especially if it's to be used in a HTPC. Making this one board that has appeal across a wide range of users and one that comes recommended to all but the most demanding overclockers.

 

 

Pros:

  • mATX form factor
  • Performance
  • Price
  • SATA 3.0
  • USB 3.0
  • 140W TDP
  • Unlock core option
  • Easy Overclocking Switch
  • CrossFireX support

 

Cons:

  • Overclocking
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