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Mid-Priced Motherboard: MSI’s P55A Fuzion

HydraLogix Vs. SLI And CrossFire: MSI's P55A Fuzion Tested
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While MSI has offered high-end (read: expensive) boards in the past using Lucid’s Hydra controllers, the company appears to have figured out that the most likely reason users would mix cards is for value. This logic compelled the company to target a sub-$200 price point when developing its P55A Fuzion, and the final product is available for around $175.

That price gets you a feature set that resembles several $140 motherboards, with the addition of its $35 Hydra 200 controller. Two full-bandwidth PCIe 2.0 x16 slots are fed by that Hydra 200 controller from the LGA 1156 socket's 16 processor-driven PCIe lanes.

The I/O panel has only one USB 3.0 port because its controller’s second port was moved inside. This was one of the proposals we saw in response to last year’s pleas for internal USB 3.0 ports. While a competing design is poised to become the industry standard, MSI’s design will at least allow a few current cases to access one port internally rather than looping out of the case to the I/O panel. We’d have accepted either MSI’s or the competing solution, but wanted at least two internal ports in addition to external ports.

Value also comes from overclocking, so MSI equips its P55A Fuzion with a ten-phase voltage regulator comprising “military-class” components. Though we’ve had great success using boards with this design, we have yet to quantify the benefits of these components.

Some builders might have already noticed that the P55A Fuzion has no rear-panel eSATA connectors. MSI supplies the board with one third-party controller, Marvell’s RAID-capable 88SE9128, and leaves it up to the user to decide whether to connect it to internal drives, a front-panel eSATA connector, or a rear-panel slot plate (accessories that are not included). Intel’s P55 Express PCH takes care of an additional six drives in RAID 0, 1, 5, or 10.

MSI uses touch sensors rather than buttons for onboard power and reset functions, making it easier to test the board without a case. An OC Genie button sets the motherboard to automatically run overclocking and stability tests at boot.

The one problem this editor found in the P55A Fuzion’s design is its bottom-rear-corner front-panel audio connector, a location that typically requires a 16-24” cable. I’ve tested over a dozen cases that came up 1-3 inches short. Though the short cable reach is primarily a case design issue, this formally-trained designer has never found an adequate excuse for placing the motherboard’s front-panel audio header so far away from a case’s front-panel connectors.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    Yargnit , October 25, 2010 7:50 AM
    It would have been nice to see how well this works with two differing AMD/ATI cards and two Nvidia cards. For instance someone has a GTX260 and wants to add a GTX460, or someone with a AMD5850 who wants to pick up a new 6870 (damn numbering change) to go with it.

    Also comparing performance pairing two cards from the same generation (say GTX 460 + GTX 470) vs differing generations. (GTX 260 + GTX460)

    Lastly what affect would pairing a two cards with varying amounts of memory have? (two regular versions of a card vs 1 reg + 1 dbl memory vs 2 dbl memory) Since it isn't clear from what I've read if both cards would be limited to lowest memory level or not.

    Interesting tech for sure
  • 17 Hide
    duk3 , October 25, 2010 6:35 AM
    Looks good on the 1st 2 games and synthetics.
    I hope Lucid gets all the issues worked out.
  • 15 Hide
    tacoslave , October 25, 2010 6:14 AM
    Still seems to buggy to me but at least they're still working on it right?
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    tacoslave , October 25, 2010 6:14 AM
    Still seems to buggy to me but at least they're still working on it right?
  • 17 Hide
    duk3 , October 25, 2010 6:35 AM
    Looks good on the 1st 2 games and synthetics.
    I hope Lucid gets all the issues worked out.
  • 11 Hide
    anacandor , October 25, 2010 6:39 AM
    So basically it's just a universal CF/SLI connecter built into the motherboard? Seems odd that it's taken this long to be developed, but great nonetheless :) 
  • 14 Hide
    Darkerson , October 25, 2010 6:40 AM
    Looks like it has some promise, if they can further work the kinks out. Something to keep an eye on in the future.
  • 4 Hide
    punnar , October 25, 2010 7:44 AM
    I can see it as a standard in the future. I think I will buy a board with Hydralogix on my next build.
  • 24 Hide
    Yargnit , October 25, 2010 7:50 AM
    It would have been nice to see how well this works with two differing AMD/ATI cards and two Nvidia cards. For instance someone has a GTX260 and wants to add a GTX460, or someone with a AMD5850 who wants to pick up a new 6870 (damn numbering change) to go with it.

    Also comparing performance pairing two cards from the same generation (say GTX 460 + GTX 470) vs differing generations. (GTX 260 + GTX460)

    Lastly what affect would pairing a two cards with varying amounts of memory have? (two regular versions of a card vs 1 reg + 1 dbl memory vs 2 dbl memory) Since it isn't clear from what I've read if both cards would be limited to lowest memory level or not.

    Interesting tech for sure
  • 7 Hide
    sudeshc , October 25, 2010 7:58 AM
    this should become a standard, allowing us to enjoy features from both manufacturers. I would also be prepared to pay few extra bucks for this as well.
  • 3 Hide
    Maziar , October 25, 2010 8:15 AM
    Overall,Lucid is a great idea of mixing different cards but it still needs quite a lot of work with drivers.
  • 0 Hide
    Yargnit , October 25, 2010 8:48 AM
    Ah, thank you. It was posted before I was frequently following the site, I'll give it a look.
  • 4 Hide
    Yargnit , October 25, 2010 9:04 AM
    Ok, I took a look at the original article, and all I was was GTX285 x2, AMD5870 x2, and GTX285 + AMD 5870, I still don't see something like GTX260 + GTX285, AMD4870 + AMD5870 or anything like that? Am i just blind?
  • 6 Hide
    jgv115 , October 25, 2010 9:29 AM
    You can do it Lucid!!!

    If you get this technology right you will be famous forever!!

    :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , October 25, 2010 9:29 AM
    YargnitOk, I took a look at the original article, and all I was was GTX285 x2, AMD5870 x2, and GTX285 + AMD 5870, I still don't see something like GTX260 + GTX285, AMD4870 + AMD5870 or anything like that? Am i just blind?
    My mistake, going from memory I thought he'd used two generations of Nvidia cards. I apologize.
  • 5 Hide
    Humans think , October 25, 2010 9:31 AM
    1. I agree with Yargnit we need to how see different generations of cards cooperate.

    2. How does it handle memory like CF, like SLI, when not the same size accross boards how much memory is used?

    3. Most importantly, some of us have a nVidia card - probably powerful and want to add an AMD for better gaming. Can the AMD render the image and let nvidia do CUDA and use remainder muscles for raising FPS, for example how does hardware acceleration work in CS5? This is the added value, in the case when we would ditch one card we get to have added functianality... - Do a mixed mode benchmark with cuda enabled plz

    Bottom line we want more info on the Technology and applications, where it is unique, the setting of these test are kind of ideal. And in a CF,SLI capable motherboard i don't really care how the card performs in the other mode. Cool to see that it has some benefit when using different brands though.
  • 3 Hide
    shin0bi272 , October 25, 2010 9:38 AM
    The entire Achilles heel of this is probably the single pcie 2.0 lane that they are using to determine which card is ready for another frame... either that or nvidia and amd built into their drivers a subsystem that checks whether or not another card is in the system and if so what model it is and if its the same as the one in the primary slot only allows it to be used via the internal connector. Which is probably why youre only seeing single card performance in 90% of these benchmarks. Now should lucid logix be sold to amd or nvidia youd see the technology suddenly spring to life and magically work! Cause the idea here is the onboard chip is a traffic cop. It sends a frame to the card that's ready for a new frame if that card can render it based on the header info in the API. So it wont send your old 7800gt a dx11 tessellation frame to render but it will send it the sky in the background... that sort of thing.
  • 0 Hide
    JAYDEEJOHN , October 25, 2010 11:07 AM
    Very nice crashman
    It seems theyre still at it, and its looking better than it did
    I think when we all heard this back when, it created a huge expectaion/desire
    They surely werent ready then, but theyve made progress
    Seeing what happened to LRB, it isnt easy coming in from scratch on a brand new tech, so I tip my hat to them, and hopefully, we get to the day where we dont throw anything out
  • 3 Hide
    ares1214 , October 25, 2010 11:12 AM
    MSI and Lucid, those 2 together and we can see some serious things to come. If they get just some more performance and less buggy, who wouldnt want a physx card with their AMD card?!
  • 3 Hide
    nukemaster , October 25, 2010 11:28 AM
    Good to see they are working on it. Maybe one day we will be able to just add a second card of our choice(lets say a 5770 + 6850, 2 cheaper cards) to improve performance.

    ruffopurititiwangThe 6870 scales better in cfx than that 5850. Why not test that?

    Maybe because this test started before the 6870 came out....
  • 0 Hide
    kettu , October 25, 2010 11:29 AM
    "Thus, while we’d like Lucid to sell as many of these things as it must to assure future success, we’re not sure you’re the customer who should buy just yet."

    You're not sure? Looking at this graph I think it's pretty clear... http://media.bestofmicro.com/A/I/264762/original/image024.png

    I'm not going to pay for the privlidge of being a beta tester for any tech company.

    Though credit where credit is due:
    "We’ve even seen instructions on how to select games to best highlight the capabilities of Lucid’s technology, but that's not how we roll."

    All in all, pretty good article despite the somewhat "diplomatic" language in you conclusion.
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , October 25, 2010 11:44 AM
    kettu"Thus, while we’d like Lucid to sell as many of these things as it must to assure future success, we’re not sure you’re the customer who should buy just yet."You're not sure? Looking at this graph I think it's pretty clear... http://media.bestofmicro.com/A/I/2 [...] age024.pngI'm not going to pay for the privlidge of being a beta tester for any tech company.Though credit where credit is due:"We’ve even seen instructions on how to select games to best highlight the capabilities of Lucid’s technology, but that's not how we roll."All in all, pretty good article despite the somewhat "diplomatic" language in you conclusion.
    Nice cherry picking, but the reason the diplomatic language is in there is that the board still supports SLI and CrossFire, both of which are in the chart. The problem is that the board does not include an SLI bridge, so you'd have to buy it separately. All of those little details are in the conclusion, but it's kind of hard to quote the entire thing...
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