MSI P55-GD65 Reviewccokeman - October 1, 2009
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Just putting that shiny new set of hardware into the case and hitting the power button does not guarantee that the hardware will perform as advertised. You need the drivers/instructions to get the most from the hardware. Each manufacturer includes a driver disk at a minimum to get your hardware going with the operating system of your choice. Rather than hunting for the drivers on an optical disk or floppy drive one at a time the manufacturers have been using an installation GUI that means you have a one stop shoop for all of the drivers and utilities that they provide. You get drivers, proprietary utilities and even sometimes you get trial versions of software that the hardware can make use of such as video encoding or video viewing programs, antivirus programs and more. MSI provides a disk that has these options. To get the drivers and utilities installed just pop in the disk and let the installation GUI come up. MSI has revamped the installation GUI so it looks much better than the one used in the past with everything out in the open. You have 5 tabs , Drivers, Utilities, Service base, Information and Security.
The Driver tab contains the INF driver for the P55 chipset the Realtek LAN and audio drivers as well as the JMicron Raid driver. The utilities section contains three usable options with the most useful being the MSI Utility tab. The other two contain Adobe Acrobat reader and Esobi search utility. Under the MSI Utility tab you have three options, Live Uptdate 4 to update the software and drivers used on the P55GD-65, Auto-boot tool to schedule times to turn on the PC and Control Center an overclocking, monitoring and power management utility.
Next in line you have the Service base so you can find where to get service should the unthinkable happen. Product Information gives you the manual and allows a quick way to get the corect MSI website for your needs and Security provides a 60 day trial version of Norton's Internet security suite.
Live Update 4 is a one-stop-shop for keeping the BIOS and motherboard drivers up to date. You have three tabs to access. Information: this tab tells you the current drivers, BIOS and operating system. Live Update: does the work and About gives the version number of the Live Update software among other notables.
Control Center looks to be the the latest MSI overclocking, monitoring and power management utility. The three options are System Information, Overclocking and Green Power. The System information tab has three sub headings that you can use to identify your hardware including the motherboard revision , BIOS revision, driver versions of the on-board hardware and installed video card. The CPU tab gives some information about the CPU including the stepping clock speed and cache size. The Memory tab looks quite similar to the information displayed and as well as the layout of CPU-Z a well known utility. Rather than use multiple programs MSI has it all in one.
The Overclocking section allows you to do some basic as well a slightly more advanced overclocking from within the windows environment. Kind of handy to help you get some quick and dirty settings to work from in the BIOS. But this also gives the novice a way to work without having to resort to the dark art of BIOS tweaking. You have four preset levels you can use or you can make the move to adjust from the speeds in any of the profiles. I prefer working from the BIOS but you can get a decent overclock in this utility as long as you have your cooling in check.
Now if you really want to go green with your hardware the Green Power section of the Control Center is for you. Working with the Intel processors features and enhancing them you can reduce the carbon footprint you leave by using one of the three presets including Max Power Saving mode or you can make adjustments if you feel you can more aggressively hunt down that last watt of savings in the advanced mode.
ASUS has Express Gate as a small OS you can boot into before going into windows and mow MSI has WInki. WInki is a small Linux Distribution that can be run from the driver disk or loaded onto a USB drive. You boot into this small OS and you are able to do many of the things you do inside Windows. The upside to this is that you don't have to take the time to boot into the WIndows OS (Even as quick as it is now at least for most of us) when you can be in Winki much quicker. You can hit the net to browse, use Pidgin as your IM program, use Skype to voice chat, Open Office for your productivity needs, you can access files on your HDD to find your photos and fix them. All in all a pretty functional utility. The only thing I had to do was set up the network connectivity on first boot.
Let's take a look at the BIOS to see if MSI has had us overclockers in mind with the P55-GD65.