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Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

X79A-GD65 (8D) UEFI

MSI loves its spectacular-scale menu buttons and clock display, though the design minimizes the settings that we actually want to read. The enthusiast-oriented clock and voltage controls are available through a menu that uses around one-third of the UEFI’s total screen space.

Disabling Intel Turbo Boost meant accepting a 12x multiplier on this platform, so we had to leave the frequency-altering feature enabled in order to overclock our processor. Unfortunately, this is one of many boards unable to overcome our Core i7-3960X's thermal sensor problem, which prevents it from scaling beyond stock Turbo Boost ratios. A 119 MHz base clock was our best overclocking option, using the 1.25x boot strap.

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A setting of 1.35 V was reported back to us as 1.36 V, though our meter read it closer to the set value. MSI adds per-channel DRAM reference voltage to the standard set of CPU and chipset voltage levels.

Our overclock ran into an uncharacteristically large snag in the CPU Features submenu because this is the only board in the round-up that does not let us reduce Turbo Boost ratio settings. A 119 MHz base clock yielded 4.28 GHz with all cores loaded, and up to 4.64 GHz in lightly-threaded applications. Firmware would disable Intel C-states when we tried to increase the lower multipliers, triggering the bug in our CPU. When we re-enabled Intel C-states, the multiplier would drop to 12x. We’ll blame our CPU for the fact that we couldn't utilize its unlocked multiplier the way most enthusiasts would. However, our inability to drop the single-core Turbo Boost ratio below 39x is something that MSI needs to fix.

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The X79A-GD65 (8D) provides a full set of primary and secondary memory timing controls, plus a few tertiary timings for those few overclockers who know how to use them.

  • Crashman
    Update: C2 CPU is now here!
    Reply
  • jprahman
    So when will we see results with a C2?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    jprahmanSo when will we see results with a C2?It's going to take around a month to prepare another roundup...so I guess good news comes with bad news, sorry.
    Reply
  • amuffin
    :o foxconn boards are pretty good.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    amuffinfoxconn boards are pretty good.They've been making decent enthusiast boards on-and-off for a while.
    Reply
  • morne
    Quick coment on looks only (I know its specs that count not looks but oh well)
    ASRock X79 Extreme6/GB - very nice all black looks better than gigabytes atempt
    Asus P9X79 Pro - new baby blue they use on all the boards... not for me
    ECS X79R-AX - looks like my old pentium 2 board with the white slots
    Foxconn Quantumian-1 - i like i like gives a feeling of the ROG ASUS boards
    Gigabyte X79-UD3 - rip of from the ASRock X79 Extreme6/GB (lol) plus the southbridge heatsink looks old fasion and ugly.
    Intel DX79SI - now this board for me looks good actualy more than good looks the best :) must be the scull lol
    MSI X79A-GD65 8D - also very nice love the blue + Black.

    If you have one of the boards and i insulted it, wasnt the intention, just my view of the board>

    Reply
  • stingstang
    My only question is.. Why do you guys need 6 freaking $1050 processors? Good golly gosh!
    Reply
  • ubercake
    Great descriptive article.

    One thing I'm not sure of is the acceptance and actual usage of eSATA. While practical at some level, is anyone actually using this MB feature or is this one of those things the MB producers can skip out on like parallel and serial ports? I'm not sure enthusiasts are all that into using their eSATA ports?

    Personally, I think this is one of those money saving opportunities MB producers should consider.
    Reply
  • geekapproved
    After the X58 anal pounding, you would be a moron to buy a X79. It's life is predicted to be even shorter than X58.
    Reply
  • morne
    Actualy i agree with you ubercake, i have never used my E-sata, and with usb 3.0 out doubt anyone still uses E-sata if they have before.
    Reply