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MSI is deservedly one of the biggest names in motherboards. Today we're looking at the company's P55-GD65, yet another ATX motherboard based on Intel's P55 chipset for its Lynnfield Core i5/i7 socket 1156 CPUs, offering the usual features such as CrossFireX and SLI compatibility, eight-channel integrated audio and passive cooling.
However, as the second-best P55 board in MSI's lineup (for now), it also ups the ante with highlights such as dual Gigabit Ethernet and support for DDR3 RAM up to 2,133MHz, not to mention MSI-specific benefits like OC Genie for instant, effortless overclocking, SuperPipe to improve cooling and DrMOS for intelligent energy regulation. Join us as we find out if it's the one to get.
Well, for starters it definitely looks the part. In fact, the P55-GD65 is probably the most attractive motherboard we've seen in a while (if camo doesn't take your fancy). It's a purely two-tone dark-blue and black affair, with none of the plastic white, orange or pink(!) bits that mar competing offerings. The gunmetal-grey, aggressive-looking heatsinks with contoured fins are also a step up from the norm. The only fly in the ointment is a small green CMOS battery jumper (which you can always replace with a black one if it bothers you).
The colour-coding isn't quite as intelligently handled as on the Asus Sabertooth 55i we reviewed last, where everything coloured beige was primary. On this board blue adorns both the primary and secondary graphics slots but only the secondary memory slots. It also signifies the Drive Booster SATA port, which again probably isn't the primary port you should choose. More on that later, though.
The included bundle is nothing too special, offering twin CDs (one with the drivers, applications and manuals and the second with a software BIOS flash), EIDE cables for hard drives and floppy, a somewhat stingy complement of four standard SATA cables, two four-pin power to SATA power adapter cables, CrossFire and SLI link cables, and a plain USB bracket. Also included is a motherboard manual, Winki user guide, OC Genie manual, HDDBackup guide and Quick installation Guide, more than covering the reference side of things.
A few annoyances we need to vent: why on earth, when everything about the motherboard is blue, black or silver, are both the IDE and SATA cables bright red? And why does the bracket only feature two USB ports, when it is the very enthusiast this board is aimed at who will quite probably require more than the single eSATA port the motherboard's rear IO provides?