MSI P55 GD85 Review
Of the two BIOS' available MSI have chosen to use the AMI BIOS for the GD85. To save you looking through hundreds of photos of uninteresting elements, we'll stick to showing you the important stuff, and most of it is kept within the Cell Menu.
When viewing the Cell Menu at defaults you can see the main adjustments we can make are to the multiplier (especially as we're using an i7 870 in testing), and the all-important BCLK. OC Stepping is for the buttons we saw on the previous page and you can set the starting BCLK, the amount of increase each press will give, and how long the motherboard will "settle" into the speed before allowing another press.
The CPU Specification menu gives us all the information we could require about our processor and its supported technologies. Although it's the kind of information most of us know off by heart, this is primarily designed as a motherboard for those people who are dipping their toes into the shark-infested world of overclocking, and for them it's a boon.
Viewing the CPU Feature menu we have those little tweaks that can really make a difference to the stability of your overclock, and many elements such as CIE and Turbo are once that most overclockers will disable as a matter of course.
Unlike many motherboards around this price-point it's good to see MSI include VDroop technology as part of the DrMOS package to ensure that under high loadings the power delivery remains constant. Also great to note here is how clear and descriptive the Help is on the right hand side of the BIOS screen. So often we see help sections that merely say "Disable or Enable" and that's it, that it is nice to see something actually useful.
Unfortunately the voltages are adjusted in steps, rather than keying in a figure directly, but MSI do inform you of the default voltage so you shouldn't be left wondering exactly what the default PLL is.
Memory dividers are slightly sparser than we like to see. Although the GD85 supports all the things you'd expect such as XMP profiles, manual timing settings etc, when seeking a maximum overclock the more memory dividers the better. Again it's important to remember the target audience and as this isn't a board designed purely for maximum overclocking but rather easy and safe overclocking for the user who is new to it, this isn't such a downside as it might otherwise be.
Finally some shots of the power regulation part and general sensors available.
Normally a driver disk is something we all just leave in the packet. After all Windows, especially 7, comes with such a comprehensive driver finding and installation ability that it is rare we want to use the supplied drivers that might be out of date, and the usual set of provided utilities are poor.
However MSI have given us a great little tool with their "Winki". No sniggering at the back. Placing the DVD in the drive and rebooting to CD/DVD provides a Instant-On Linux that comes with everything you need to perform general internet tasks and even comes complete with Open Office, the excellent freeware Office package.
Choosing to boot from CD provided a usable system in about the same time as our Windows 7 booted from SSD, and so if it was something you wished to use regularly and therefore installed to the drive rather than ran from CD, it most definitely would come close to its Instant-On moniker.
Using it is simplicity itself with a GUI that is familiar to anyone who's ever worked with icons. The only slight downside we found is that it didn't support our monitors native resolution and so there is a little moire-ing in the following photographs. This wasn't visible when in use and so is very much a non-issue. We just didn't want you thinking it looked like this "in real life".
On the left are the IM/VOIP programs, Skype and Pidgin. Skype is exactly the same as the Windows based version. Pidgin will probably be new to many of you and is an all-in-one IM solution allowing you to access all your IM accounts from a single program. A godsend for those with an ICQ number as well as a MSN/AIM username.
On the right is the word processing part of the Open Office package.
Although the control panel is tiny, it covers everything you could need to adjust on such a streamlined package. Network setup is exceptionally simple with an auto-detect for hard-wired ADSL connections and a User/Pass interface for those who require it.
Finally we have the installation element should you wish to make a more permanent install that doesn't require having the MSI driver disk to hand.
Time to see what we're using today, and how the MSI P55-GD85 overclocks.