MSI P55 GD85 Review
Purchasing any new hardware is always a balancing act between obtaining something that does what you want, and something you can afford. Our purchases are either obligatory as part of an entire system, or an upgrade to an item we already own. Thankfully many of them come with instantaneous benefits in terms of faster processing, or increased frame-rates, or easier usage or faster loading. Whatever the benefit is we notice it straight away and spend ages boring our partners and amusing our friends showing off.
Motherboards, along with PSUs, are the red-headed step children of the hardware world. The difference between a good one and a bad one can make a massive change to the performance of your entire system, but sadly most people don't consider them to be an important upgrade.
When the P55 was introduced it was intended to be a more affordable way to get onto the latest hardware without the expensive X58 solution. Unfortunately the world is a business and so as more people naturally gravitated towards the affordable option, so manufacturers started to expand their ranges to more couture offerings and the value nature of the 1156 platform quickly was diluted.
Anyone who has purchased a pre-built PC in their lifetime will surely have owned a Micro-Star International motherboard at some point. Initially they were poor to average in quality and suffered from a few niggles. As the years passed MSI seemed to go very quiet, but when Intel released the LGA1366 they came back with a HUGE bang, providing large feature sets at good pricing and without the problems that beset the much earlier motherboards.
Today we look at the culmination of this highly respectable business strategy, the P55-GD85. On paper this provides all the high-end features anyone could ask for, and some unique to MSI, whilst still maintaining the more affordable premise of the 1156 platform.
Have they succeeded?
As always our first port of call is the MSI website to grab their specifications. As you can see it's a comprehensive list indeed.
|CPU||Supports Intel® i5 / i7 based processors in LGA1156 package.|
|Chipset|| Intel® P55 Chipset|
- Supports QPI up to 6.4GT/s
- Hi-Speed USB (USB2.0) controller, 480Mb/sec.
- 6 SATAII ports with transfer rate up to 3Gb/s.
- PCI Master v2.3, I/O APIC.
- ACPI 2.0 compliant.
- Serial ATA RAID 0/1/5/10.
- Integrated AHCI controller.
• Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 1066/1333/1600*/1800*/2000*/2133* (OC) SDRAM, 16GB Max
- Supports 1Gb/ 2Gb/ 4Gb DRAM size
- Supports Dual channel mode
|Slots||• 2 PCI Express gen2 x16 slots|
- If two graphics cards are installed at PCI_E1 & PCI_E2 slots, these two PCIE x16 lanes will auto arrange from x16/ x0 to x8/ x8
- supports ATI® Crossfire™ & NVIDIA SLI
• 2 PCI Express gen2 x1 slots
• 2 PCI slots, support 3.3V/ 5V PCI bus Interface
|On-Board IDE/SATA||One Ultra DMA 66/100/133 IDE controller integrated in JMicron® 363.|
- Supports PIO, Bus Master operation modes.
- Can connect up to two Ultra ATA drives.
• SATAII /SATAIII controller integrated in Intel P55/Marvell® SE9128 / JMicron 363 chipsets
- Up to 3Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports six SATAII ports by P55
- Supports two SATAIII ports by Marvell SE9128, up to 6Gb/s, support SATA RAID 0/1.
- Supports one SATA port & one eSATA / USB combo port (back) by JMicron 363.
- Supports AHCI controller with AHCI / SATA RAID 0/1/5/10 by P55.
|Audio||• Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC889|
- Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
- Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
|LAN||• Supports Dual LAN PCI-E Gb LAN controllers by Realtek 8111DL|
|IEEE1394 / FireWire||• VIA® VT6315N chipset|
- Supports up to two 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, pinheader x1)
- Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps.
|Internal I/O Connectors||- ATX 24-Pin power connector|
- 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- CPU / System x 4 FAN connectors
- CD-in connector
- Front panel audio connector
- Front panel connector
- 1 x chassis intrusion connector
- 3 x USB 2.0 connectors
- 7 x Serial ATAII connectors
- 2 x Serial ATAIII connectors
- 1 x ATA133 connector
- 1 x IEEE1394 connector support additional 1 port
- 1 x Reset Button
- 1 x Power Button
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x SPDIF-out connector
- 1 x TPM module connector
- 1 x OC Genie Button
- 2 x Direct OC Buttons
- 1 x set voltage check point
|Back Panel I/O Ports||- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard port|
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse port
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Coaxial SPDIF-out
- 1 x Optical SPDIF-out
- 1 x IEEE1394 port
- 5 x USB 2.0 ports
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x eSATA / USB Combo port
- 2 x RJ45 LAN Jacks
- 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
|BIOS||• The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.|
• The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
|Dimension||• 30.5cm(L) x 24.4cm(W) ATX Form Factor|
Some of you who follow these specifications as closely as we do you'll notice that although they are generally what we'd expect there are some features unique to the MSI range.
We'll have a closer look at those on the following pages.