MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) LGA 2011 ATX Motherboard Review
Specifications, Packaging, Layout, Included Extras
Technical Specifications (taken from MSI's website)
• Supports 2nd Generation Intel® Core i7 processors in LGA2011 package.
Please refer to CPU Support for compatible CPU; the above description is for reference only.
• Intel® X79 Chipset
• Supports eight unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1800*/2133*/2400* (OC) DRAM, 128GB Max
- Supports Quad channel mode
• 3 PCI Express gen3 x16 slots
- PCI_E1 & PCI_E4 support up to PCIE x16 speed
- PCI_E6 supports up to PCIE x8 speed
• 2 PCI Express gen2 x16 slots
- PCI_E2 & PCI_E5 support up to PCIE x1 speed
• 1 PCIE x1 slot
• SATAII controller integrated in Intel® X79 chipset
- Up to 3Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports four SATAII ports (SATA3~6) by X79
• SATAIII controller integrated in Intel® X79 chipset
- Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports two SATAIII ports (SATA1~2) by X79
• SATAIII controller integrated in ASMedia® ASM 1061 chipset
- Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports two SATAIII ports (SATA7~8)
- SATA1~2 ports support Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (AHCI / RAID 0/1) by Intel X79
- SATA3~6 ports support Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (AHCI / RAID 0/1/5/10) by Intel X79
• 1 USB 3.0 internal connector by NEC® D720200
• 2 USB 3.0 rear I/O ports by NEC® D720200
• Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC892
- Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
- Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
- Meet Microsoft Vista Premium specs
• Supports one PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Realtek 8111E.
IEEE1394 / FireWire
• VIA® VT6315N chipset
- Supports up to two 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, pinheader x1)
- Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps.
Internal I/O Connectors
- ATX 24-Pin power connector
- 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 4-PIN Power connector
- CPU x 1 / System x 4 FAN connectors
- Front panel audio connector
- Front panel connector
- 1 x chasis intrusion connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 connectors
- 1 x USB 3.0 connectors
- 4 x Serial ATAII connectors
- 4 x Serial ATAIII connectors
- 1 x IEEE1394 connector
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Power button
- 1 x OC Genie button
- 2 x Direct OC buttons
- 1 x Multi BIOS switch
- 1 x Voice Genie connector
- 1 x MultiConnect Panel connector
Back Panel I/O Ports
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Coaxial SPDIF port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF port
- 1 x IEEE1394 port
- 1 x RJ45 LAN Jack
- 8 x USB 2.0 ports
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
• The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
• 30.5cm(L) x 24.4cm(W) ATX Form Factor
• 9 mounting holes
The retail packaging MSI created for the X79A-GD65 (8D) highlights the board's "Military Class III" components that are MIL-STD-810G certified, which means it uses high-end, stable components. MSI also touts the board's Click BIOS II and PCI-E 3.0 technologies.
The back panel of the motherboard packaging gives consumers more specific information about the board's power components, overclocking features, and other next-gen technologies that make it more of a "future-proof" motherbaord.
This is the first Sandy Bridge-E (LGA 2011) motherboard that I have had on my test bench and I have to say the overall layout and design is quite interesting to say the least. The first feature that has been modified from previous LGA 1155, 1156, and 1366 socket boards is the quad-channel memory support that allow users to add up to 128GB of DDR3-2400 (overclocked) memory. The CPU socket itself is absolutely massive compared to previous Intel CPUs and takes up most of the top portion of the motherboard. I'm a bit concerned about how much clearance there will be to use all eight DIMMs when users try to use third-party heatsinks that may block some of the DIMMs.
The back panel of the PCB is very plain with only a single aluminum backplate behind the CPU socket.
As we move to the back I/O panel, I see the usual suspects like eight USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, firewire, PS2 mouse/keyboard port, coaxial/optical audio ports, Gigabit LAN, clear CMOS button, and six audio jacks. This setup is pretty common nowadays and doesn't impress me much in terms of available options for users.
Many of our readers prefer using dual or triple graphics card configurations and the X79A-GD65A (8D) doesn't disappoint by supporting three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots that support up to 32GB/s of bandwidth. When users run three video cards at once in SLI or CrossfireX configurations, they will only be able to get 16x16x8 speeds, but that is a great feature when you consider the price point of this particular motherboard.
The first thing I look at after seeing how many PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots are available on a motherboard is to evaluate what other unique capabilities the board will provide to novice and advanced users. MSI has had a lot of success with their OC Genie II technology that makes overclocking a bit easier for those who don't want to manually adjust CPU ratios and voltages. These four buttons help users enable the board's OC Genie II features and increase or decrease CPU speeds.
The front panel headers are separated, which is a bit unusual. I also prefer to have them color coded so I can put everything together without reading the diagram or opening up the user manual.
The bottom-right side of the motherboard has two USB 2.0 headers and one USB 3.0 header. MSI also added a convenient debug LED display that helps users troubleshoot boot issues.
The X79 chipset supports up to four SATA 3GB/s and two SATA 6GB/s devices. This chipset by Intel also supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 and Intel's Rapid Storage technology. MSI added an ASMedia ASM 1061 chipset to give users two additional SATA 6GB/s ports.
MSI moved most of the board's power components above the LGA 2011 socket to make room for eight DIMMs that support up to 128GB of DDR3-2400,2133,1800, 1600, 1333, and 1066 quad-channel memory.
MSI included several useful accessories with the X79A-GD65 (8D) like six SATA 6GB/s cables for multiple optical drives and primary/secondary storage drives.
They also added a couple handy PCI brackets to give users two more USB 3.0 and two eSATA ports to further expand the functionality of the X79A-GD65 (8D).
The fun keeps going with a blacked-out I/O backplate, USB 3.0 cable, M-connectors, and an SLI bridge to connect two video cards and use them in an SLI configuration.
There's also several resources to help users get the most out of their X79A-GD65 (8D) like hardware and software user manuals and a handy quick installation guide.
MSI added a certificate of quality and stability to let users know they stand by their motherboards and used only the best "military-grade" components.
Lastly, they added an overclocking guide and detailed quick install guide that are well organized and detailed enough for even advanced users who want to learn more about the various features and options available on this motherboard.