Preview: MSI P55-GD80 (Intel P55) Motherboard

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Here are close-up shots of the MSI P55-GD80.

The socket area looks a tad cramped, but should be able to accommodate most coolers with ease. Note the thicker SuperPipe heatpipes.

At the back, the MSI P55-GD80 has no less than seven USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA/USB combo port, an IEEE 1394 port, dual Gigabit RJ-45 LAN ports, coaxial and optical S/PDIF-out ports, analog audio jacks and PS/2 ports for both keyboard and mouse.

The Lynnfield processors' memory controllers will be of the dual-channel variety, hence the MSI P55-GD80 has four DIMM slots instead of three or six, which are found on X58 boards.

The MSI P55-GD80 might have three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, but the P55 chipset is capable of supporting dual graphics cards in CrossFireX or SLI natively in x8 / x8 configuration. On this board, the third slot is able to run at an x4 configuration, but that would mean disabling all PCIe x1 slots. As such, tri-SLI configuration is possible on this board.

MSI has even thoughtfully provided a single CrossFire and three SLI ribbons.

The MSI P55-GD80 has eight onboard 3Gbps SATA ports, six of which are nicely angled and are native to the Intel chipset. The other two which are in blue and face upwards are enabled by the onboard JMicron JMB363 IDE and SATA 3Gbps controller.

Slightly to the right of the SATA ports is the V Check Point, which allows more skilled users to accurately measure the CPU, memory and chipset voltages. The switch on the left allows for the convenient increase of overclocking voltages.

MSI has even provided a handy V-kit, which includes a quick guide and connecting cables.