MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) £192

20th Mar 2012 | 16:05

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D)

Four slots bad, eight slots good?

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

Sturdy build, excellent overclocking tools and dual BIOSes. Not the prettiest board, however.

Like:

Built to last;Strong feature set;Idiot-proof overclocking

Dislike:

Not exactly cheap

Overview

Is there such as thing as too much system memory? In the context of the new MSI X79A-GD65 8D, that's the first question that leaps to mind.

As an X79 motherboard compatible with the latest Intel Core i7 processors for the LGA2011 socket, it forms part of the highest performing PC platform on planet Earth. But you still have to wonder whether support for 128GB of DDR3 memory split over eight DIMM slots is really rational.

Sure, for server PCs running multiple virtualised operating system and a whole hill of applications, that much memory is a boon.

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D)

But for desktop PCs, even those running heavy duty content creations apps, eight to sixteen gig is usually plenty.

In its fisticuffs with the Gigabyte X79-UD3 and Asus's P9X79 Pro, therefore, the MSI X79A-GD65 8D will need a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Maybe that old MSI favourite, the OC Genie button, can make the difference.

Benchmarks

Intel's X79 platform plays host to the fastest CPUs currently available. So the MSI X79A-GD65 8D kicks out some monster benchmarks numbers when you drop in that Core i7 3960X processor.

What it doesn't do, however, is put significant distance between itself and cheaper X79 motherboards in stock clocked benchmarks.

If you want a reason to spend more, therefore, it'll be features like MSI's OC Genie overclocking tool that will have to win you over.

CPU rendering performance

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) Benchmarks

Video encoding performance

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) Benchmarks

Real-world productivity performance

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) Benchmarks

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) Benchmarks

Verdict

MSI's X79A-GD65 8D costs that little bit more than the Asus P9X79 Pro, which in turn is priced at a marginal premium to Gigabyte's X79-UD3.

So is it a case of incremental upgrades all along the line, or has MSI done enough to put this X79-based board in another class altogether?

MSI X79A-GD65 (8D)

First up, the '8D' suffix indicates this is an eight-slot revision of the original four-DIMM GD65.

With that comes the aforementioned support for a rather mentalist amount of memory. If there's any application or usage model that requires 128GB on the desktop, we've yet to stumble across it.

And what about all that "Military Class" branding?

For starters, classy is one thing it ain't. But it does point towards a board that's specified for some fairly serious action.

Apart from components said to have passed the US MIL-STD-810G Certification for military use (yes, really), including Hi-c capacitors and DrMOS II MOSFETs, MSI also provides check points for measuring voltages.

Few people are likely to really call on such features, but over-engineered is better than under-engineered.

It certainly suggests the GD65 will shrug off long periods of running CPUs beyond stock frequency.

That's something you may well be tempted to do thanks to the ease with which the board can be overclocked.

MSI's OC Genie button allows for one-touch overclocking.

The 4GHz it enables with a Core i7 3960X isn't hugely exciting (the Asus P9X79 Pro's auto-OC tool hits 4.3GHz). But then MSI also provides a pair of Direct OC buttons, allowing you to tweak frequencies on the fly.

The final highlight involves dual BIOSes giving peace of mind that you won't brick your board during an firmware upgrade.

We liked

Over two hundred Earth pounds is a lot to invest is a mere motherboard.

So, we welcome the effort MSI has put into ensuring the GD65 8D keeps on trucking. That includes top spec components and features like dual BIOSes.

We also jive with the quick-and-easy overclocking tools.

We disliked

SATA support is a bit of an issue. Like any X79 board, you only get two native 6Gbps ports with the chipset.

Another four (including two via a header) come courtesy of an ASMedia controller.

However, some early GD65 8D adopters have reported poor performance from the ASMedia chip.

Verdict

Sturdy build, excellent overclocking tools and dual BIOSes. Not the prettiest board, however.

MSI X79 Intel Sandy Bridge E
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