MSI P67A-GD65: Overview

On the face of it, the MSI P67A-GD65 is aimed at a variety of markets—for system builders and sellers, we have the OC Genie button which implements a very quick overclock setting; for sub-zero overclockers we get a series of voltage read points; and for the general enthusiast, we have a nice PCIe slot layout, and the standard array of P67 internals. After a run through with the MSI board, I can totally see it as a capable daily machine with that OC button, but beware with the software that comes with the board—there is a mountain if you want to look through it (and we cover it here), and some of it isn't even applicable.

MSI have a history of producing fine boards, but often with a few niggles. It is similar here with the P67A-GD65, predominantly in terms of the lack of USB performance against its competitors from a variety of price points, and the fact that MSI offer games (??!) in the UEFI! I'm being serious—read on to find out more.

MSI P67A-GD65: Visual Inspection

When you first look at the MSI P67A-GD65, you'll notice that the power delivery chokes are not what we've seen on our previous Cougar Point motherboards—here we have 'Super Ferrite Chokes', which supposedly result in a reduced power loss from the power delivery to the components, and are part of the MSI DrMOS topology.

Around the CPU socket, the VRM heatsinks are smaller than what we see on other P67 boards, and are connected by a heatpipe to cover the 6+2 phase power delivery. Along the top of the board are six LEDs which light up when various CPU phases are active—for the most part, we only observed either one or all six of them on at a time. In terms of fan headers around the CPU socket, we have one 3-pin at the bottom left of the socket and a 4-pin CPU fan header at the top right. Two others are on the right hand side of the board above the 24-pin ATX power connector and another header below this—meaning any dual fan all-in-one CPU water cooling (such as the Corsair H50) should be catered for if the pump is plugged into a fan header on the far right of the board.

 

On the other side of the memory slots, we have our voltage read points, where two GND points are alongside the PCH, VCC_DDR, CPU_SA, CPU_VTT and VCCP pins. MSI include these on several boards in their P67 range, and of real use only to a sub-zero overclocker pushing the limits of the board.

The SATA ports could possibly be better color coded, as the white ports are the SATA 6 Gbps, however the top are from the PCH, and the bottom are from the Marvell SE9128 controller. The black ones in the middle are the standard SATA 3 Gbps ports. On the bottom right of the board are the Power/Reset buttons, alongside the MSI OC Genie. We cover the operation of the OC Genie switch in our overclocking section. We don't see a debug LED here on the MSI board—you could consider that as it is technically the cheapest in this round-up that it is less likely to have one, and that our previous $190 round-up the ASUS and Gigabyte didn't have them either, but the ASRock P67 Extreme4 at $160 had one, as well as the ECS P67H2-A2 in this roundup.

The PCH heatsink is small and flat, and complementary with the blue-black livery of the board, which is quite aesthetically pleasing in my view—even if the white SATA ports and red power USB header stick out like a sore thumb. The PCIe slot layout is fairly good, with an unrestricted PCIe 1x at the top, a triple slot gap between the PCIe 16x slots (run at 8x/8x when two GPUs are present), and when the two PCIe 16x slots are populated with dual slot cards, a PCIe 1x is available between the cards and a PCI slot is available at the bottom.

The IO back panel is fairly standard—one PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, optical and coaxial S/PDIF out connectors, a clear CMOS button, two eSATA 3 Gbps ports via a JMicron JMB362 controller, eight USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports in blue via a NEC uPD720200F1 controller, a single gigabit Ethernet port from a Realtek 8111E controller, a Firewire port, and the standard Realtek rear 8-channel HD audio with THX TruStudio Pro support.

Does P67 Have A Future? MSI P67A-GD65: Board Features, In The Box and Software
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  • S0me1X - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Can you shed some light as to exactly what this does? There is talk of its effects but not what it is actually doing. Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Intel haven't released this information in an easy to read format, as far as I can tell - speculation is rife that it's to do with boosting the frequency signal to the CPU just that it's easier to distinguish between high and low states when you have a high overclock (PLL stands for 'Phase Lock Loop'). The downside of enabling this feature (and is a known problem) is that there are issues coming back from Sleep states.

    All the best,
    Ian
    Reply
  • GTVic - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    A Phase Locked Loop is designed to keep something on frequency, counteracting external forces which would otherwise cause a frequency drift. I believe the voltage levels on the CPU are controlled by the frequency of the Pulse Width Modulation so I'm guessing that this "Internal PLL Overvoltage" circuit allows the CPU to auto-manage the voltage levels required at various levels of overclock. If it needs more voltage, it gets more. As opposed to a table of preset voltage levels for various overclock frequencies which would not be optimal for all CPU chips in all environments. Reply
  • bf71090 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I don't think you were clear with the warranty information for the Asrock. As far as I can tell any p67/h67 board you buy today until June 30th will automatically have a 2 year warranty. Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I just double checked with ASRock, and all high end motherboards are two years warranty (with ASRock), while other motherboards come with a one year warranty.

    All the best,
    Ian
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Monday, May 16, 2011 - link

    Must clarify - it's other ASRock boards that have the one year. Reply
  • H8ff0000 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Can you guys please review the P67 Sabertooth? I'd like to know where you guys think it stands in relation to these. Reply
  • nightmare9920 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I just double checked with ASRock, and all high end motherboards are two years warranty (with ASRock), while other motherboards come with a one year warranty.

    All the best,
    Ian


    It depends on the region, in europe the standard warranty is 2 years with 3 years on some of the high end boards. I believe in NA it is 1 year as standard and 2 on the high end boards.
    Reply
  • Arbie - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    A feature important to me is fan headers and controls. I want to know how many headers there are, what electrical type (3-pin or 4-pin), and what the BIOS will actually do with them (manually set speed, or have it control on thermal inputs).

    This kind of info is often hard to find - sometimes impossible without buying the board. So getting this from someone who has actually used the board would be ideal.

    However, reviewers usually give fan controls short shrift, possibly because they are not putting the boards in cases. And I realize that, especially on a multi-board roundup, you can't go into such detail on each one. So - where it's available - maybe you could include a link to the mobo user's manual.

    Thx
    Arbie
    Reply
  • michaelheath - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    I appreciate the review, however I think tech writers are sensationalizing the 'fiasco that was Cougar Point' a bit too much. Yeah, it kinda sucked for the early adopters (and I say that with full sympathy, having been there before myself). For a person who's patient and waited for all the kinks and bugs to be ironed out, the fact that there was a release, a recall, and then a re-release may not weigh on their mind at all when making a purchasing decision. Personally, I'm waiting to see what Z68 does and then pulling the trigger, and I'll gladly buy a P67 board if it's the better option. Reply

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