When I first cast eyes on the MSI P55-GD80 I was astounded by the very attractive design. So much so I found it hard to believe it had arrived from the MSI stable. The design bods have worked wonders with the aesthetics of the board which is easily one of the best looking pieces of hardware on the market today. The matching blue heatsinks and peripheral slots are very fetching and with no odd purple or yellow (or indeed pink and green!) slots anywhere on the mainboard, I congratulate MSI on a job well done.
The packaging too, while not on a par with the best out there is certainly very good. I would like to have seen black/blue cabling included instead of the bog standard MSI red but I guess they have surplus stock to shift from the parts bin. What I was impressed with was the amount of included accessories.
The motherboard layout is nigh on perfect with no issues encountered at anytime during the setup. The amount of ports and connectivity is such that even if you do not wish to use this motherboard as the basis for an overclocking monster, you will be happy with the amount of expandability it offers.
The good news does not stop there though. The board has some very good overclocking ability. Achieving 4.5Ghz is no mean feat and while I will confess, this is the only board I have tried this CPU with, the overclocking seemed to be very predictable. The board gives you those little hints when it is starting to run out of steam and this makes overclocking so much more fun and much less frustrating. The recovery from overclocking was such that it only added to the pleasure of using such a well refined motherboard. Even if you are not well versed in the dark art of overclocking, MSI have made the process so much easier thanks to the OC Genie and Base clock +/- buttons on board.
My only criticism of the motherboard is the OC Genie. While it is fantastic in automatically overclocking the components, it prevents some of the more detailed options of the BIOS being available, mainly the memory divider which caused issues as it would not allow our test kit to be run at it's stock 2000MHz rather relying on the SPD settings of the memory kit. However, a quick email to MSI support confirmed that they are already aware of the issue and that the technical boffins are busy working on a new BIOS release to rectify the problem, such is the excellent motherboard support from MSI.
The board has started to appear around the £180 mark which may appear a little excessive but when you consider mid range X58 motherboards are above this price point, £178.24 (available from Novatech
) is not such a bad price at all for a flagship product. I would have liked it to be a touch closer to £150 which is much more reasonable but as with most PC components, prices just seem to creep up and up and MSI cannot be held solely responsible for that.
MSI have long been known for making good motherboards but have rarely made that extra step by making an amazing motherboard. This time I think I am justified into saying that they have taken that extra step and done just that. What MSI have produced is a motherboard capable of exceeding any preconceptions and indeed exceeding anyones expectations. I certainly didn't expect to see such a well rounded product as with most products, it takes a while for the chipset to mature before we start to see some of the best motherboards on the market. However, I feel MSI have shot straight out of the blocks and are racing toward the finish line before other manufacturers have even tied their laces.
Excellent work MSI!
- Baseclock buttons
- OC Genie (Auto overclock)
- Overclocking potential
- On board temp and phase readouts
- OC Genie restrictions (memory multi)
- No colour coded accessories
- Packaging is better but dated compared to other high end products