MSI 870A Fuzion - Fuzion for the Masses

MSI 870A Fuzion - Fuzion for the Masses

Fuzion for the Masses

It had been a pipe dream for enthusiasts - the ability to link multiple graphics cards from two different vendors (ATI and NVIDIA) and their incompatible architectures on the same motherboard. A fabless semiconductor firm, Lucid, however made it a reality with its vendor-agnostic Hydra 200 chip. We reviewed the first commercial implementation of this technology with the MSI Big Bang Fuzion earlier this year. While the basic premise of this technology worked, it came with its fair share of bugs and compromises. These, coupled with the premium positioning and asking price for the Big Bang Fuzion, meant that the product was even more niche than the usual high-end enthusiast motherboard.

It's half a year later, and while Lucid appeared to have snagged another motherboard manufacturer to try out its Hydra 200 chip, that ASUS motherboard is also targeted at the high-end segment. MSI meanwhile has changed its tack and announced two mainstream models that come with the Hydra chip, both of which we saw at Computex. Today, we get the chance to try out the version intended for the AMD platform, the MSI 870A Fuzion.

The familiar brown, blue and black theme used by MSI in recent boards continues its run on the 870A Fuzion. We said it before and will say it again - we aren't exactly fans of its brown PCB.

MSI has been using the 'Fuzion' branding to identify motherboards that come with the Lucid Hydra chip, but users may not be too familiar with the 870A designation. The '870' here refers to its use of the AMD 870 chipset, which is itself a minor update of the AMD 770 chipset. MSI has also gone wth the SB710 Southbridge, and not the newer 800-series that debuted this year. The 'A' indicates that it comes with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps support (albeit both functions via thrid-party chips onboard), a naming convention that seems to have taken root among motherboard vendors.

Since the withdrawal of NVIDIA from the chipset scene, there hasn't been a way for NVIDIA users to get their SLI fix on the AMD platform. The MSI 870A Fuzion claims to be the first motherboard on the AMD platform to support SLI and that's certainly the case (at least for a while), albeit via the Lucid Hydra chip instead of native SLI, but do users care if it quacks like a duck?

Despite what CPU-Z thinks, this board is using the 870 chipset and not 770, though it's essentially the same. This chipset has no integrated graphics and is targeted at the budget to mainstream segments. MSI has chosen to partner it with the older SB710, instead of the newer 850 which comes with native 6Gbps SATA ports. This feature however is on this 870A thanks to a Marvell controller.

The variety of ports at the rear include both coaxial and optical S/PDIF outputs, a Clear CMOS button, USB ports, including one USB 3.0 port, a FireWire port and the usual LAN port. A generally well balanced selection.

The Good
Very good board layout
Strong set of features
The Bad
Premium cost for the Fuzion technology
Performance was mediocre

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