MSI 870A Fuzion - Fuzion for the Masses


The MSI 870A Fuzion

The MSI 870A Fuzion

As we mentioned, the MSI 870A Fuzion uses a 'new-old' chipset, the AMD 870. It also has an older Southbridge, the SB710 instead of the newer 800-series ones that are found in AMD chipsets launched this year. MSI could be trying to keep a lid on the cost with such choices, but despite their age, they should still be relevant today. More so, since MSI has chosen to augment the Fuzion with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps functionality, both implemented using third-party controllers.

Not only that, the 870A Fuzion comes with native CrossFireX support, so if Lucid's Hydra Engine is not working for you, there's something to fall back on. There's no native SLI support of course, but that's another story. And lest you think that the chipset determines the CPU support, you can be reassured that this board has an AM3 socket that accepts AMD's 6-core Phenom processors with no issues, with HyperTransport 3.0 too.

In fact, taking aside the older chipset used, this board is very current with MSI's own technologies, with the presence of its 'military class' components like Hi-c capicitors onboard, while its auto-overclocking utility, OC Genie is also found as an onboard button and in the BIOS. You can even unlock the hidden cores on some AMD processors through the BIOS, a feature that's only found openly on the latest AMD motherboards (the previous generation required more work and even special BIOS versions to enable).

MSI has also added quite a few features to the basic AMD 870 chipset, including FireWire support with a VIA chip and dual PCIe 2.0 x16 slots with the full 16-lane bandwidth. HD audio is handled by the popular Realtek ALC892 CODEC, making this a rather modern board overall.

The six black SATA ports are 3Gbps only, offered by the SB710 chip. The two in white however are SATA 6Gbps capable and are powered by a Marvell 9128 chip. Don't ask us why two of the black SATA ports are facing upwards instead of being in line with the rest. We have no idea why MSI went with such a strange design, but at least it doesn't appear to interfere with your graphics cards.

The standard four DIMM slots you can expect on an AMD board, with its dual-channel memory architecture. These DIMMs support up to DDR3-1600 (O.C). Yes, it's not exactly very conducive for hardcore overclockers, but this board wasn't meant for such extreme endeavors.

The two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots are in blue, with two PCIe x1 sandwiched in between so that one can install dual-slot graphics cards. There's also a single PCI slot that will be rendered useless if you do install such large graphics cards. A 6-pin power connector allows you to provide extra juice to power-hungry graphics cards, though we feel it's unlikely.

There are no onboard buttons for power and reset so get ready to hook up your casing's front-panel chassis connections to this board. There is however an OC Genie button for easy, automatic overclocking.

Like the numerous boards that come with USB 3.0 functionality, NEC's controller is used. There's also an internal USB 3.0 connector which MSI mentioned it would be handy for the newer casings that have a front-panel USB 3.0 connector. While we agree it's thoughtful, we can't imagine it being too useful in its current location at the back of the system.

MSI's military class components are used to bolster the power delivery to the processor and include solid capacitors, hi-c capacitors, and icy chokes, all of which help to improve the lifespan of this board.

The standard AM3 socket, with sufficient clearance for most coolers. At least we had no issues with our third-party cooler.

In terms of the MSI 870A Fuzion's layout, we didn't spot anything major that could result in angst for the user. Of course, there were some strange decisions, like the two upward-facing SATA ports, but at least they didn't interfere with anything. We would also have preferred having two external USB 3.0 ports at the rear, and not just one.

7.5
Performance
7.5
Features
9
Value
7
The Good
Very good board layout
Strong set of features
The Bad
Premium cost for the Fuzion technology
Performance was mediocre