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The MSI 790GX-G65 is the first motherboard we've seen that shows the result of a rethink by the marketing people at MSI. For starters the company logo is now msi rather than MSI, although we'll stick with the capital letters if it's all the same to you. Then there's the model code, 790GX-G65, which is both concise and informative. The chipset is the AMD 790GX that fully supports Phenom II as we have previously seen in the Asus M4A78T-E.
There is no suffix to the 790GX part of the model code so this is a regular ATX model. If the code was a 790GXM-G65 it would denote a Micro-ATX board and an I would indicate a Mini-ITX form factor.
The G65 part of the model code breaks down thus: The G shows it is part of the Gaming series of motherboards (the others are eXtreme, Entertainment, Professional and Classic). The 6 refers to market segmentation which replaces the old Diamond and Platinum names. 9 is the equivalent of Diamond, 7 or 8 is a Platinum, 4-6 for Gold or Neo and 1-3 for Value. The final digit refers to the options on the board although we're none too sure about this as the 5 suggests you get some extras yet the 790GX-G65 comes with the bare minimum in the package. There's a single SATA cable, a SATA power adapter, an IDE cable and a CrossFireX connector. Let's hope it all becomes clearer when we've seen a few more new MSI motherboards over the coming months.
So what we have here is an ATX 790GX Gaming motherboard that is positioned in the mid-range. MSI has clearly worked on the appearance of the board as it looks - dare we say it - quite stylish. The PCB uses two shades of brown and looks like an enormous chocolate dessert. Yummy.
This move away from MSI's usual love affair with the red PCB has really helped to tone down the impact of the colours used on the other components. The four DDR3 memory slots are still coloured blue and pink and the two PCI Express 2.0 graphics slots continue to use different shades of blue yet it all looks quite pleasant where some MSI motherboards have looked as though they have been coloured by a toddler at playgroup.
This cosmetic restraint extends to the heatsinks which are the colour of steel although we are told the cooling system uses ‘Flat Fins Copper-Pipe'. These coolers look as though they have been lifted from a Gigabyte motherboard, which is meant as a compliment as we love the looks of the current crop of Gigabyte products. The Southbridge cooler on the MSI is tiny, which is fine as the Southbridge of an AMD chipset does very little work. The Northbridge cooler is larger and is linked by heatpipe to a hefty cooler on the power regulation hardware. Unfortunately all three coolers are secured with plastic pop pins in contrast with high end models that retain the coolers with screws.