The X58 Motherboards You Can Afford



Finally, we get to the MSI X58A-GD65, which along with the high-end Big Bang-XPower, is the company's attempt to rejuvenate the X58 chipset with newer models that offer SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 support. Since it has been more than a year from the last budget X58 board we saw from MSI, the X58 Pro-E, the board design has changed significantly. Gone is the brown PCB, for a darker, but still brown PCB, but we jest.

The main difference between now and then is the choice of components, with MSI embarking on its 'Military Class' components, featuring new ferrite chokes and digital PWMs. MSI has also ditched older interfaces like IDE support, with the space going to the two new SATA 6Gbps ports (Marvell controller again).

Not everything has been changed though, with MSI strangely keeping with its hardware OC jumpers, which allow users to toggle between three set base clock frequencies, 133, 166 and 200MHz. Naturally, we aren't too keen on using this, unless it's to bring an overclocked system back from the brink, but again, that's what the Clear CMOS button is for. So instead of the OC Genie that's prominently featured on the Big Bang-XPower, there's no such equivalent on the more budget-friendly GD65. More than the high-end boards, we think features lik the OC Genie should propogate to their lower tier boards as well.

Like its competitors, the MSI X58A-GD65 offers a similar set of features, with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps the important ones. Others include 3-way SLI/CrossFireX, the ICH10R Southbridge and its six SATA 3.0Gbps ports and of course, the same triple-channel memory architecture. Unlike the ASUS and Gigabyte boards in this roundup, we did find Power and Reset buttons on this board.

The layout of the GD65 was mostly excellent, due in part to its lack of onboard clutter. The passive heatsinks on this board were minimal, with ample amount of PCB space. Interestingly, no heapipes were used. The SATA ports were aligned outwards and will not interfere with the graphics cards. In short, except for a possibly limited PCIe x1 slot, we were quite pleased with what we found on this board.