A Closer Look Part II

The board has several features that will make the overclockers happy. Most noteworthy is the inclusion of direct base clock control buttons for real time adjustments. The buttons work in 0.1Mhz increments giving precise control of the system and is an excellent feature when benchmarking on the limits of stability. Also present is a debug LED readout and voltage read points for connection to a multimeter. The OC Genie button is a one touch overclocking button that increases CPU and memory frequencies and voltages automatically. There is an onboard power switch but strangely no reset switch which we feel is an oversight. Also present is a switch seen at the far left which manually switches between the two BIOS'.

IMG 17031 MSI X79A GD65 Motherboard Review

There are three PCIe 3.0 compliant x16 slots, two PCIe 2.0 slots and a single 1x slot. Of course there is support for Crossfire and SLI in three way configurations.

We quickly tested 3 way SLI with a set of GTX580 Lightnings and initially discovered we had no display when the output was connected to the first card. After a quick look in the manual we realised the requirement to connect the monitor to the third, or bottom located card. This is only required for 3 way setups. For single and dual cards, connecting to the first or topmost card is fine.

IMG 17131 MSI X79A GD65 Motherboard Review

Here we see several of the I/O controller chips. Audio duties are handled by a standard ALC892 8-channel controller with THX TruStudio Pro support. Firewire is controlled by a VIA VT6315N chip supporting a port at the rear with an onboard optional plug for an additional port. There is a single LAN port provided by a Realtek RTL8111E controller.  Also seen here is a commonly used NEC USB 3.0 controller that handles the two rear ports.

IMG 17061 MSI X79A GD65 Motherboard Review

 

MSI is heavily promoting their Military Class theme in recent times. The PWM section of the GD65 does indeed appear to be solid, featuring what MSI confirms is a 10+2+2 phase configuration. The board incorporates DrMOS II components which integrates the driver and MOSFETs into a single package. Also present are tantalum capacitors and super ferrite chokes. The board should have no problem powering even heavily overclocked CPU's.

IMG 17261 MSI X79A GD65 Motherboard Review

In contrast to many competitors who are placing hefty heatsinks or fans on their X79 boards, The GD65 heatsink looks positively skinny in comparison. Even when pushing voltages well beyond stock for the CPU and PCH, these heatsinks were merely warm with a fan blowing over the socket area. The heatsink is screwed down and makes excellent contact with the X79 chip and MOSFETS.

IMG 17311 MSI X79A GD65 Motherboard Review