MSI P55-GD80 Motherboard

Test Setup

Test Setup
 
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below: 
 
Test Setup
 
Processor: Intel Core i7 870 (2.93Ghz)
Motherboard: MSI P55-GD80
Memory: 4GB GSkill Trident DDR3 F3-16000CL9D
Graphics Card: Asus NVidia GTX275
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: Coolermaster Hyper TX3
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 160GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 190.62
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
 
During the testing of the setup above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
 
setup 1 Setup 2
 
ram spacing GSkill
 
As you can see, there is plenty of clearance for the memory modules, even high heatsink ones such as the Gskill Trident used in our test setup. There was also a 3cm gap between the memory slot clips and the GPU which should provide plenty of room to swap out those modules without having to remove the GPU.
 
LED phase control  
 
The MSI becomes a light show at night with the OC Genie button illuminating blue when pressed. The on-board diagnostic LED also doubles as a CPU temperature gauge when the POST has completed. Yet another diagnostic LED is found near the CPU socket which displays the number of Phase controls in use. There are also separate LEDs (blue) which also report the phase signal status.
 
To guarantee a broad range of results to best evaluate the motherboards performance, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra Pro 2009 SP3c
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m

Memory Test
• Sisoft Sandra Pro 2009 SP3c
• Everest Ultimate Edition Version 5.00.1650

File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra Pro 2009 SP3c
• 7-Zip File Compression ver 4.65

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra Pro 2009 SP3c

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10 (64-bit)
• POV-Ray 3.7
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games

• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Call of Duty 4

Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
 
 
Power Consumption

Power consumption is an aspect often forgotten when it comes to enthusiast motherboards but in today's climate, with rising utility bills special consideration needs to be taken when choosing you components as over a period of time, one components can prove to be much more expensive than another over its lifetime. Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of 3DMark Vantage.
 
 
With the defaults set in the BIOS, the P55-GD80 uses 146W when idle which is bad news for electricty suppliers but good news for consumers. Even when the system was placed under load the power consumption only increased by 90w to 232w. Thanks to the fantastic power efficiency of the DrMOS features, the MSI P55-GD80 is certainly worthy of consideration should you wish to cut those power bills.
 
 
Overclocking
 
Here's what we get with the CPU booted at stock with all powersaving and overclocking options disabled:
 
 stock cache
 
memory mobo
 
From the CPU-Z shot above you can see that the stock speed of the Core i7-870 is 2.93GHz when the bus speed is running at 133Mhz. As with most motherboards though, there are slight variations on this and the MSI board we are using for testing placed the bus speed slightly above spec at 133.7MHz resulting in a clockspeed of 2.94GHz but for intents and purposes this should be 2.93GHz. As with the Core i7-920, the i7-870 has the Intel Turbo feature allowing an instant overclock by increasing the multiplier by two on the primary core and 1x on the remaining three so the cores are clocked to 24, 23, 23, 23 when you need the extra power most giving an overclock of 3.6GHz. This is in stark contrast to the stock clockspeed of the i7-920 being 2.66GHz with a Turbo boost of 3.2GHz - nice!
 
MSI have also made it easy to overclock by the use of a single button, the OC Genie. Hitting this button and thereby illuminating it blue activates an onboard processor that sets an overclock depending on the hardware used saving both time and effort. Here's what the OC Genie made of our i7-870:
 
OC Genie
 
Sadly, the memory cannot be overclocked while the Genie is in operation nor can the XMP profile be utilised which is very disappointing. That said, an instant 1GHz overclock on the CPU (which was also solid as a rock in Prime95) is certainly nothing to be scoffed at. Hopefully the memory issues while using the Genie will be resolved in future BIOS revisions.
 
Anyone who is familiar with overclocking the older Skt1366 i7 will feel pretty much at home with the new revision i7 in that the base clock is still there acting for all intents and purposes just like the FSB of old.
 
Turbo
 
I initially tried overclocking the Core i7-870 with the Turbo technology enabled which resulted in a maximum clock of 4429MHz. However, I was not satisfied that 185 on the base clock was the maximum available on this motherboard and so did a little manual tweaking and managed to hit 205.5 Bclk resulting in a whopping 4521MHz! This was far from stable though but I do feel were I to be a little braver with the voltages then this could indeed be stabilised. 1.4v was the maximum Vcore I used on the chip, as with the older Core i7-920 but the newer i7 surpassed the older chip by a fair margin.
 
SuperPI
 
Lowering the overclock I attempted to gain some stability with a few runs of 3D06 and SuperPI 1M. While SuperPI is by no means the definitive test of stability, it does give an indication of what the CPU is capable of, much more so than a CPU-Z suicide screenshot. 4.45GHz was the maximum I could achieve with this setup on air cooling with a Vcore limitation of 1.4v. Which was stable enough for everyday use. An amazing result, especially when you consider that the temperatures were also lower than that of the Core-i7 920 being around 35c idle and 68c load compare to 47c idle and over 85c for the 920. Obviously a pinch of salt has to be added to these temps as totally different setups were used but I would be happy to stake my reputation on the fact that the Core i7 8xx series run cooler than the 9xxx series counterparts.
 
For this review I decided to run the system at stock speed and the system overclocked to see how it compared. When overclocked I ran the system at the same settings the OC genie used (4GHz CPU) BUT also ran the memory at its rated 2000MHz. The Stock system was run at 2.93GHz on the CPU and the maximum allowed 1600MHz on the memory.
 
Let's see how they got on...
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Most Recent Comments

21-09-2009, 01:49:24

JN
"P55 Motherboards are starting to appear and for our first review of a retail board we have MSI's flagship motherboard, the extreme performance P55-GD80. See how it performs inside" - by w3bbo

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...141914946s.jpg

MSI P55-GD80 Motherboard

21-09-2009, 02:35:28

PeterStoba
I'll say it before, and I'll say it again. This is one of the best looking boards I've seen!

That's a nice clock from it too.

21-09-2009, 05:37:05

Rastalovich
It's a good mobo with a good review.

178 is something for the 'con' section for me tbh.

For some reason, since i7, it appears the standard is to have the level of mobos at around 30-50 more expensive than they probably should be.

This could however be the result of 775 mobos just not going away. And if they're at "reasonable" prices, it tends to suggest the manufacturers feel they can "get away with charging" that much more as it's "new technology".

I personally think this is bllx however when the jump between the 2 isn't great.

21-09-2009, 07:26:20

tonpal
I think Rastalovich has a good point. For 180 you can pick up a mid range X58 board that might not have as many bells and whistles as the P55-GD80 but does have the advantage of 32 PCI-E connectors. Granted for it to make a difference you would need to be running Crosfire/SLI with a 24 inch monitor but the sort of people who this board targets it is quite reasonable to expect they may be running this sort of hardware.

21-09-2009, 12:09:22

w3bbo
I agreee to a certain extent about the price and mentioned in the review that the board should be priced around 20-30 cheaper. However, this is new technology, albeit slightly inferior in certain sectors to older X58 chipsets and because of that the price is inflated accordingly. I couldn't really put the price as a 'con' as it is pretty much inline with what other manufacturers are charging for a flagship P55 motherboard.

The jump between the two technologies is indeed nothing to shout from the rooftops about but the performance difference is there. How much you value that extra performance will depend alot on how much of an investment you see a PC as.

As always guys I appreciate constructive criticism and feedback, these are afterall - reviews for YOU!

21-09-2009, 12:25:19

VonBlade
Only really the same thing I always moan about W3bbo. Solitary performance figures are nice, but a comparison with a same speed X58 i7 system would be lovely.

Would triple-channel make that much difference with it's superior bandwidth?

Given the tiny price difference between this mobo and a 860 and a P6T and a 920D0 which is the better buy?

All those kind of things. Especially important when it's a new generation of hardware and so most people would be buying the bulk of a new system.

Even, because it's equal in dual-channelness to the AMD Phenom IIs, a AMD comparison.

I'm just a comparison whore. I love to know what the best system would be for the same money. Most online comparisons are strange things like a stock i5 vs a i7 975E vs a X2 250. Let's equal the clocks, equal the RAM and run the battery of tests. That way it's clear which is the best for general use, gaming use, productivity etc.

But, as per usual, a fantastic review. Truly droolworthy looking mobo. About the only mobo that comes close in looks is the Asus Maximus III.

22-09-2009, 05:31:38

Rastalovich
Memory I've always considered as much of a muchness between ddr2/ddr3 triple and dual.

Benchmarking u get the obvious champions. And if ur using the types of creative apps constantly in the day, like for work or something, u'll notice the difference I'd imagine.

Last mobo I got for gaming, which in fairness I had the means to get whatever 775 that was out there, I went ddr2.
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