MSI P55a Fuzion Review
Lucid and Fuzion
All manufacturers of anything are looking for a Unique Selling Point. That thing their product does that nobody elses does. MSI have got probably the biggest one around. The only thing we can think of that would be more impressive is if a company produced a motherboard that could handle every socket type. But enough pre-amble.
The MSI P55a Fuzion has a Lucid chip on board. This has one major benefit. Until now if you owned an nVidia card you would have to purchase another nVidia card and run in SLI. Similarly if you currently owned an ATI card, then Crossfire was your only choice.
This is made especially irritating because of nVidias bizarre practise of not allowing PhysX to work when an ATI card is in the system, accidentally released beta drivers notwithstanding. So if you owned an 8800, and then upgraded to a 4 or 5 series ATI, your previous card was all-but useless.
The Lucid chip has two major benefits. Let's say you like to keep up with the very latest hardware and so you brought a 5870 when it was released. Then nVidia finally released the GTX480 and so you brought one of those. Instead of just having one card in your system, thanks to the Lucid chip and HYDRA engine, you can use both of them together in a Hybrid-X configuration. The secondary benefit is if you're like the above example you can use your old nVidia card together with your new ATI card and get PhysX on your ATI.
Installation is mind-blowingly simple. Insert both cards, install both drivers, install the HYDRA software and reboot. Upon reboot you gain a little utility with a small-footprint in your system tray. As you can see from the second screenshot not every game you can think of takes advantage of the Lucid chip. In fact of our standard benchmarking suite only Crysis and 3D Mark Vantage are compatible. However many other very popular games are, with more being added all the time.
Yes indeed this really is an ATI HD5870 next to a GeForce GTX480 in the same system. And yes, as you can see from the FluidMark screenshot on the right, both cards are detected and utilised.
Of course this isn't just about the Lucid chip, so let's pull ourselves back to see how the MSI P55a Fuzion performs as a motherboard, before returning to see if the HYDRA has any benefits.
As with all overclocking of LGA1156 the first thing is to get the highest possible stable BCLK. With a little tweak to the voltage we managed to obtain a very satisfactory 218MHz. Then it was just a case of trying to obtain stability whilst still having a CPU multiplier than would enable good clock speeds.
On the left we have the overclock that the MSI produced when the OC Genie button was enabled. Very nearly 4GHz. It's curious to see that it used a high BCLK to obtain this rather than going all out with the multiplier, but regardless 4GHz for just pressing a button is highly impressive.
Turning the OC Genie off and going back to the manual BIOS method of overclocking we saw an absolutely stunning 4.33GHz. As with nearly all overclocks as you start to get higher on the multiplier the quickly has to be reduced sharply to retain stability. Nonetheless with 1.37v on the CPU Core (not shown in CPU-Z as it hasn't been updated for this motherboard yet) we had a massive overclock that was stable enough to be used all the time.