Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

First of all, let's talk about OC Genie. Once it's active, both the Cell part of the BIOS and overclocking features of Control Center are essentially disabled. What it gave us was an overclock of 3.34GHz on our 2.66GHz Core i5, having raised the BLCK to an impressive 196.5MHz but lowered the ratio to 17. At these settings the PC ran perfectly stable. It also managed to get 3.77GHz out of our 2.93GHz i7 870 (197 BLCK, 19x ratio).

OC Genie is impressive enough considering all it takes is a single button press, but with manual settings you can get a lot more out of this CPU and board combination, so it's only a solution for those unwilling to mess with the Cell menu's settings themselves. The biggest downside to it is that it appears to disable Intel's intelligent Turbo mode, so your system will be running at full whack all the time. This is something MSI should be able to alter with a simple BIOS update though.

Getting onto manual overclocking, we managed to get the Core i5 750 up to a very decent 3.9GHz stably by setting VDroop (which automatically regulates the CPU's voltage) to high, letting the board automatically up the ratio to 21 and simply ramping the BLCK up to 186MHz. Even one MHz past this though consistently resulted in blue screens of death (BSOD), but keep in mind this is without changing any of the advanced settings.

However, the 3.9GHz result is somewhat disappointing from an overclocking-oriented motherboard when the Asus Sabertooth 55i, built for ruggedness rather than speed, effortlessly managed 4.2GHz under similar circumstances.

So there we have it. MSI has created a comprehensive board with a good layout and lots of nice features, with OC Genie being a highlight for those afraid to overclock themselves. While for everyone else OC Genie is pretty much redundant in its current implementation, we adore the Direct OC buttons that let you raise or lower bus speeds with a single press. It means you can fine-tune the BLCK anytime regardless of software or computer state, even in the middle of a game.

However, it lacks some minor features it really should have had (which the more expensive GD80 does offer, incidentally), and most importantly, isn't exactly an overclocking champion despite its ambitions.

On the other hand, in addition to the aforementioned benefits it also looks stunning, with its black and blue colour scheme and gunmetal heatspreaders. Though not a major point, MSI's software is also very well thought out. Best of all, the P55-GD65 is only £127, a pretty decent price for a premium P55 board. Whether it's worth buying, however, depends on your priorities, and in the meantime the quest for the ultimate P55 motherboard continues.

It might be well worth waiting if you can, as there are still plenty of new features coming to the P55 platform in the first quarter of 2010, such as USB 3, SATA 6, and Hydra, with a review of the former coming soon and the latter scheduled to debut on an MSI board in the next few months.

Verdict

With the P55-GD65, MSI has created a motherboard that looks great, has plenty of features and an excellent BIOS plus good software. However, unfortunately for a motherboard aimed at overclockers, its performance in this area isn't quite as strong as some of the competition.

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