MSI 785GM-E65: Features And Hardware
The MSI 785GM-E65 has some nice features. In fact, it's arguably the most fully-featured board in the roundup, even though its size is limited to the smaller microATX form factor. It matches the larger full-ATX Gigabyte board for capabilities, and while it has fewer PCI and PCIe slots, it offers some things that the Gigabyte board does not, like an eSATA port and 128MB of SidePort memory.
In contrast, the 785GM-E65's bundle isn't all that extensive. It consists of manuals, a driver CD, an I/O shield, a single SATA cable, an IDE cable, and a Molex-to-SATA power adapter.
Other features include Active Phase Switching (an AM2+/AM3 feature that disables extra power phases under light loads to save enegy) and Easy OC switch (an on-board switch to set a 10%, 15%, or 20% reference clock overclock without having to enter the BIOS).
While there's only a single 16-lane PCIe 2.0 slot and a single x1 PCIe slot, there are two legacy PCI slots. Everything else is accounted for with two FireWire ports (one internal), internal serial and parallel connectors, floppy and IDE ports, and six SATA ports (one is an external eSATA port). The MSI board also sports Realtek's premium ALC889 audio codec.
The board is well laid out, with connectors and sockets smartly placed along the edges where they belong. The 24-pin ATX power plug is centrally located, and even the floppy and IDE ports are on the correct side of the board. The SATA ports face to the right of the board, but even here MSI has supplied a single easy-to-get-to port, and it can hardly be blamed for trying to save some space on such a small form factor when so many options are included.