MSI P55-GD65 Reviewccokeman - October 1, 2009
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What you have in the MSI P55-GD65 is a performance motherboard that is one step from the top of the line GD-80. The P55-GD65 is a full featured ATX form factor motherboard that offers support for the latest Intel Core i5, i8 series and Core i7 socket 1156 processors. Multi GPU solutions include both Nvidia's SLI and ATI's CrossfireX both supported without any additional on-board hardware or software besides of course a second video card for the manufacturer of your choice. The board has a pleasing blue and black theme with the cooling solutions in argent. Much better visually than the MSI X58 Eclipse SLI I looked at last year. The P55-GD65 is based, as the naming implies, on the Intel P55 Express chipset. There are a total of 4 memory slots that support up to 16GB of memory at speeds of DDR3 1066/1333/1600*/2000*/2133* (OC). Cooling of the DrMos components is accomplished by way of the 'Super Pipe' system that offers a 90% improvement in cooling capabilities over prior designs.
The I/O panel connections include P/S2 ports for both the mouse and keyboard, optical and coaxial S/PDIF ports, 1 IEEE 1394 port, a total of 7 USB 2.0 ports,1 eSATA, 2 Gigabit Lan ports and the 8 channel (7.1) sound connections. Strangely absent is an external clear CMOS button so frequently used on enthusiast class boards. The P55-GD65 has a total of 7 expansion slots - 2 16x PCIe slots that operate at 8x x 8x electrically when 2 graphics cards are installed, 2 PCI slots, 1x PCIe 4x slot and 2 1x PCIe slots. The spacing of the bottom PCI slot means that even with a dual slot cooling solution on the bottom video card a single PCI slot should be available for a sound card.
Along the bottom of the board you have additional connectivity in the form of the front panel audio, CD input, IEEE 1394, S/PDIF out, serial port, 3 USB 2.0 headers to make a total of 13 ports available and the front panel header. Wait - there was more there than just the connectivity on the bottom of the board! What you have are the OC Genie button that allows for a 1 second overclock by pushing the button while powered down and then booting right into a stable overclock. The power button is just what it implies and the bclock adjust buttons let you increase or decrease the bclock "on the fly".
Flipping around to the right hand side of the board you have the start of the drive connectivity with a total of 7 SATA 3GB/s ports. The six along the edge are controlled by the Intel P55 chipset while the lone blue port facing up is controlled by the JMicron JMB363 controller. Next to the SATA ports you have the IDE port also controlled by the JMicron controller. Moving further up the board what do we have here but an FDD port, something that has been missing from most of the boards I have looked at recently. Right behind the FDD port is the 24 pin ATX power connector and a feature that looks like it will be quite useful. The V-Check Point. You can check the CPU , VTT, PCH and Dram voltages against what you set in the BIOS. The fact that you can hook in your multimeter and leave it in to get voltages just rocks. Much better than the option on the Maximus III Formula.
Behind the power connection you have the four DIMM slots that are capable of supporting 4GB of DDR3 memory at speeds of up to 2133MHz. At the top of the board above the DIMM slots are the phase switching LEDs to show how the power management circuits are working. Further to the right is the 8-pin auxiliary power connection.
The CPU socket area of the P55-GD65 is not overcrowded with capacitors or chokes with the DrMos design. The cooling to the PWM circuits consists of two heatsinks interconnected with the 8mm SuperPipe heatpipe. The P55 chipset uses a stand alone heatsink to manage the thermal load. Just to the left of the P55 chipset heatsink is the OC Genie chip that does all the overclocking dirty work to make overclocking easy for the novice. The heatsinks are secured with screws instead of a set of push pins. A much more secure implementation.
The MSI P55-GD65 has the looks and the build quality to compete at the top end of the performance spectrum, so let's get her installed and see if the looks and components carry this board to the top of the heap of the P55 motherboards.