MSI X79A-GD65 (8D)
According to MSI, the MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) is its most important X79 motherboard. With the previous chipsets (P67 and Z68) the GD65 was consistently the most popular MSI motherboard, and they hope to continue this trend. The GD65 comes in two versions, one with four RAM slots and one with eight RAM slots. The boards can be recognised by the suffixes (4D) and (8D). We tested the (8D) version.
In addition to the eight RAM slots, the GD65 comes with five PCI-Express x16 slots with 40 lanes in total and one PCI-Express x1 slot. We count eight Serial ATA connections, two made possible by an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA600 controller. There is no eSATA on the GD65, however. There are four USB 3.0 connections, two internal and two external. The number of USB 2.0 ports is 12, eight of which are on the back. Firewire is present, and the board has a single Gigabit network connection. MSI also chose to switch to an Intel chip for this. The 7.1 audio is controlled by a Realtek ALC892 codec, with THX software and Creative X-Fi technology.
The five fan connections on the motherboard are of the PWM variety. The cooling on the board is luckily passive, and in spite of the limited space MSI was able to fit an impressive heat sink on the CPU power supply. For this circuit the manufacturer has made use of what it calls Military Class III components, which among other things include a new generation Dr Mos chips. They seem to work well, as the X79A-GD65 motherboard is very economical. The Dr Mos II also has a built-in safety for hardcore overclockers, it will warn you if temperatures exceed 115 degrees and shut down your system if they exceed 130 degrees. This should minimise the risk of frying your motherboard even during extreme overclocking.
Extra features include power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons. Overclocking features include plus and minus buttons for overclocking in real time, the renowned OC Genie button for overclocking your system with one push-of-the-button, and a HEX display with BIOS POST codes. The botherboard has two BIOS chips that can be switched between with a handy switch. In one of the corners we find voltage measuring points.
The GD65 comes with MSI's new Click BIOS II, a completely revamped graphical EFI-shell that's clearly better than version 1. This BIOS is very complete in terms of features and options, which can be seen in the screen shots below.