What I am holding in my hands right now (well, not literally) is a great motherboard. I will not say that the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) is an awesome motherboard or the “best” motherboard, but yeah, this device right here is going to rig up your gaming machine like nothing else. It is divine, it has the 8 DIMM slots for insane RAM upgrade and it revises PCB designs, which is the least of its great features.
Editor’s Note: I could not find the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) at Amazon. Maybe I missed the motherboard’s sales page but I have taken the liberty to link other MSI motherboards. These motherboards are nearly as good, and in some cases, even better than the X79A GD65 (8D). Feel free to let us know at (firstname.lastname@example.org) whenever you see the official sales page.
Front View of the X79A Motherboard – The National Images
Against my Hairy Leg – The MSI X79A Manual Looks Much Better
Holding the Beautiful MSI X79A GD-65 Manual in My Hands
Good Stuff about the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) Motherboard:
- Intel 2nd Generation i7 Core Processors Supported
I have not tried the latter processor series, but as far as all processors within the second gen i7 core are, you will be more than comfortable installing those. As much as it sounds enticing, the second generation i7 core processors restrict backward compatibility for the MSI X79A GD65 motherboard. People with limited budget don’t have to buy this device, as it will require a long term investment.
Rear View of the Motherboard (MSI X79A GD 65-8D)
- Built-in 8 Channel – 7.1 Audio System
You can also plug in your 5.1 audio system in this motherboard. The X79A GD65 (8D) has the option for disabling unwanted speakers. So, if you have connected the 5.1 and you’re hoping to get the best surround sound experience, disable the extra speakers so that only 5 ports are transmitting output. This can be done through the motherboard device settings menu, or your OS device setting menu.
- 8 DIMM Slots
Noticed the (8D) in its name: “MSI X79A GD65 (8D)”? I may be wrong but as far as I can tell, the 8D corresponds to 8 DIMM slots. These slots support 128GB RAMs with a maximum of 2400 MHZ (OC) speed. I don’t think that everyone goes to 128Gigs of RAM. But if you are planning to do that, I bet your system will churn out superb memory performance.
- Click BIOS II Interface
Overall the BIOS itself has gone through a lot of changes. Compared to old Microstar International Motherboards, the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) exhibits revised BIOS, better GUI and quick call to action for easy understanding.
- 1 Sec Overclocking OC Genie II
- Official 3 Years MSI Warranty (Applicable only in the U.S., Canada and Mexico)
The rest of the features are more technical. I will talk about them in detail as the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) review continues.
Certificate of Authenticity and Military Class Chassis Performance
My Only Concern about MSI X79A GD65 (8D):
It is a great thing that MSI considered implementing the USB 3.0 panel connectivity at the front of this motherboard. But what good are those ports when you can’t access them in a 3 Way Graphic Card installation. Maybe you are planning to go for the 3 Way ATI Radeon Cross fire configuration on this mobo, what then?
The card will not fit with a cable installed, but this is a minor concern at least at my side. I don’t have that kind of budget to buy three high end graphic cards and then go for either an SLI or a Crossfire set up. Also, I don’t think a lot of gamers have 3 or 4 GPUs installed on their motherboards. The idea of 2 way SLI / Crossfire seems comforting enough. For this purpose, the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) will be perfect, without causing any trouble against USB 3.0 port use.
MSI X79A GD65 (8D) for Hardcore Gamers and Newbie Buyers:
Some areas of this mobo can be a lot to swallow, even for hardcore gamers. You have to go for the i7 processors, which are still very expensive in the market. In a way, you have to buy the 2nd generation Intel processors because the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) mobo won’t work with older i5 or i3 core series.
The OC Genie and Direct OC have their respective power buttons moved to the bottom edge of the motherboard. Again, not a good move for people with 12 Inch long GPUs, installed in a multiple GPU environment.
That being said, there is a very little amount setbacks to be subtracted from the MSI X79A GD65 (8D). I, for one, loved the number of DIMMs. It will benefit high end gamers for months, or even years to come. You probably do not require overclocking with the kind of rig that the X79A demands, but if you are into it, there is a BIOS IC selector switch.
Last time in the previous MSI X79A GD65 (8D) version, overclockers accidentally corrupted their firmware. The BIOS IC will help you avoid that. There is a third party PCIe x 1 Controller for added support to SATA 6GBps ports in the motherboard.
I had a friend who accidentally connected the PCI power connector to the wrong power connector on the motherboard. As a result, the X79A GD65 (8D) literally burned. MSI has an entire manual when it comes to serviceable warranty; make sure that your board does not have physical damage or something likewise, because the company will not help you.
2D desktop and office related needs are met perfectly fine by the X79A MSI Motherboard. However, this board better suits gamers and overclockers who are seriously interested in running games at Ultra Details. Think of Crysis 3 on highest details powered via multiple RAMs and at least 2 way SLI.
Other games, such as BioShock Infinite and UT Engine powered programs will be a walk in the park. Add the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) multi threaded operation handling capabilities and your overall system specs to the configuration, your games will be running smoothly for a long time. Despite of the 2 PCI Express x 16 Slots, the fact that they are wired to single Express Lane, you can drop a GPU in either one of them.
A Brief Look at MSI X79A GD65 (8D) BIOS Interface:
BIOS was deemphasized a long time ago. These days, motherboards manufacturers work extensively on BIOS interface to bring the best experience to consumers. Business talk apart, what is so special about MSI X79A GD65 (8D) BIOS? First off, MSI has transitioned to the UEFI setup.
The old BIOS setup was replaced decades ago, that is if I am recalling correctly. What MSI did with the overall BIOS was that it took the idea of AMI UEFI BIOS, customized it and made it its own. The company further goes to claim that this is the first UEFI BIOS of its kind, I do think that this is not a valid claim. Months ago, the company said that they are working on level of interaction with BIOS.
You see, BIOS menus need extra clicking. It is like one of those point and shoot click ads that you see in Google sidebars. You have to double click MSI X79A GD65 (8D) BIOS menus and you have to do it fast. The only way you can keep up with the interface is through rigorous use. Such elements are sticking points that really bothered me while reviewing the motherboard.
In some way, the BIOS double clicking is a good feature. But MSI has implemented it almost 90% across the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) interface. You probably need double click at Password change screens but the same is not needed when accessing boot menu or simple device sub menu in the BIOS.
Speaking of Boot menus, the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) has a +1 over ASUS UEFI and other competitors. The menu itself is very easy to understand. You can arrange up to 9 devices because iconic representation makes it easier to understand the layout. Frankly, it is the high side of the interface, which I really admire. As compared directly to the Click BIOS I interface, the Click BIOS II is better. I do think that the first one was a piece of shit.
Game Stats and Benchmarks for MSI X79A GD65 (8D):
Gaming is a combination of old games. I am still compiling Crysis 3 and BioShock Infinite benchmarks for this motherboard. Why are they delayed? Well, I ordered the GTX 680, right after I reviewed several other cards during my Crysis 3 article. Companies hand me products for reviews and sometimes they don’t like to part ways with them. Therefore, I have to return them intact!
The following gaming benchmarks were run and tested personally by me. Screenshot credit goes to HardOCP guys because my results are closely equal to theirs. That’s why I am using their screenies to illustrate the stats. The HardOCP guys tested the motherboard’s benchmark gaming stats at low details. They wanted to avoid bottlenecks, which is a great strategy and I have to agree with them here.
Any Voltage Issues with MSI X79A GD65 (8D)?
Yes, there are some voltage issues with the motherboard. These issues will not bug you if you are running the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) at default settings. Overclockers beware: once you cross the 4.5GHz threshold, the board needs some serious voltage. Initially, you will not notice it because probably you have set the voltage higher through the board’s menu.
However, the actual voltage transferred/ transmitted is slightly low. On 4.7GHz, the CPU PLL has to be increased to 1.84v and Voltage set to 1.54v. Meanwhile, I will recommend that you run CPU / Motherboard temperature monitoring programs to analyze the temperature flux. If it goes high, disable overclocking.
Under full load, the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) temperature averages between 70 Degree Celsius to 75 Degree Celsius. After 30 minutes interval, the system will freeze. This frequently happens at 4.8GHz, but the overall results are quite satisfying. When overclocked, the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) beats ASUS Rampage IV Extreme series motherboard.
On the other hand, the Rampage series was not very impressive. ASUS did a crappy job at some points where they needed to pay extra attention. Don’t trust me? Head over to the Amazon review section for ASUS Rampage boards and see what reviewers are saying. Otherwise, if you want to purchase MSI X79A GD65 (8D) alternatives, it is all up to you.
Behold! The Blue Screen of Death:
The worst thing that could happen to you is a BSoD. Otherwise known as the Blue Screen of Death, the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) has them. Now in all fairness, I am regretting this purchase and most likely, I will be going for a replacement. So far, the motherboard, in my case, has not bugged me with BSoD.
The OS Installation went fine; unlike other users, there was no BSoD issue there. The question is why does the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) show BSoD at random intervals? Am I pushing the board over its limits? Another important question is whether I should recommend the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) motherboard to fellow gamers?
Take it this way; there are worse things that you can do without the X79A. All products are not perfect. This one doesn’t have those issues which will make you scream like a prom queen locked up in boys’ locker room. The voltage readings and overclocking are risky areas. I normally use all GPUs and motherboards at default settings as it is best to stay on the safe side.
I definitely recommend the MSI X79A GD65 (8D) to everyone. It is a Pandora Box, which needs the best of system resources. No, wait, “Need” is not the right word. The X79A DESERVES the best accessories to output great results.