MSI P55 GD85 Review
Blimey there is a lot to cover. MSI certainly haven't been stingy with the feature-set.
Starting with the packaging we can see that although it's not as plush as some hardware we've reviewed, it absolutely gets the job done. As I said back on page 2, we don't mind a little saving on the packaging if the product itself benefits from that cost cutting. It certainly isn't in the included cables as the GD85 comes with every cable you could wish for
Documentation is a thorny point with me. It's always frustrating when a company goes to enormous efforts to provide a swathe of features, and then does a very poor job in explaining them if they explain them at all. MSI should be applauded for not only providing excellent documentation, but providing it for every element of the package. Clear, well written and lots of pictures it is a model for what manuals should be.
The actual motherboard itself also has many things to recommend it. Long gone are the days in which a motherboard appeared to be an explosion at the Crayola factory and the GD85 is abundant proof of this. Gorgeous to look at with a cohesive palette used throughout the board and MSI have even used the blue that nicely matches the default blue you see in case-mod lighting.
All the heatsinks are nicely finished and also match each other well with the font and colouring of the MOSFET DrMOS heatsink matching the chipset heatsink. It's those small factors that can make a big difference.
The inclusion of the "Winky" Instant-On Linux on the driver CD is a boon and something we definitely liked both in its idea and the execution. It's simplicity itself.
Before we get on to the true superstar of todays review, we have to look at the negatives.
The BIOS does everything you could ask a BIOS to do and the explanations are very good. However it's not at all the easiest BIOS to navigate with a few important overclocking features being buried here and there.
The Easy Touch BCLK buttons, whilst being configurable, are sadly limited by their placement should you wish to use them once the GD85 is installed in a chassis, and the fact that the motherboard isn't hugely responsive to manual overclocking attempts.
The placement of the two SATA 6Gbps ports isn't brilliant if you plan on using either Crossfire or SLI with a lengthy card. This also affects the OC Genie button. The larger gap between the two main PCI Express sockets is beneficial to the cooling capabilities of your graphics cards, but at the expense of the bottom right of the motherboard. Perhaps a small relocation is needed, or you have to get it set up on a single card and then add the additional one once you're running as you desire.
Finally the placement of the voltage monitoring pins isn't perfect especially if your ATX 24-pin cable isn't very flexible as most aren't.
However, insane overclocking and multiple cards isn't really what the GD85 is about. It's an entry-level enthusiast motherboard designed to give even the neophyte a taste of the power available. The OC Genie does this in spades.
We've tested many supposed automatic overclock devices here at OC3D, from hardware ones to software ones. None of them come close to the brilliance of the MSI system. It doesn't plug the CPU into the mains to attain stability. It doesn't give a 5 point BCLK increase as a pretence of overclocking. It took our i7-870 to a perfectly stable 4GHz and even all of our experience in overclocking barely achieved more. It's unbelievable fast and easy. Press a button, and that's it. It doesn't need multiple reboots to achieve stability. It isn't wobblier than a drunk tightrope walker. It left us breathless.
Perhaps best of all, the settings it applies are stored in the BIOS enabling you to quickly see the changes that it has made and use them as the jumping off point for your own foray into the world of overclocking.
Back in the introduction we wondered whether MSI had managed to combine a comprehensive feature set into an affordable package, and I can answer yes. Without a shadow of a doubt, yes.
It certainly isn't the weapon of choice for the grizzled overclocking veteran who seeks absolute power regardless of the cost, because it just doesn't have that extreme performance capability. It also comes with enough high-end features it isn't strictly speaking a budget option.
However, if your requirement is either something that will enable you to get the most out of your setup without spending days attempting to achieve stability, or if like most of us you require absolute value-for-money, then there are few higher recommendations than the MSI P55-GD85.
Looks great. Goes great. Bombproof. That's plenty of reason for us to award the MSI P55-GD85 our OC3D Value award, for providing enormous value for money and once again making the LGA1156 a seriously viable alternative to the collosus that is LGA1366.
The OC Genie itself is so brilliant that we have to give it the rarely awarded OC3D Innovation stamp. It's the new benchmark for automatic overclocking.
- OC Genie is truly amazing.
- Comprehensive accessories.
- Brilliant documentation.
- High standard of hardware for a very good price.
- The BIOS isn't the most user-friendly.
- Vertical SATA 6Gbps ports.
- Voltage probe placement.
- Packaging is a little ho hum.
OC Genie also receives our Innovation award :