MSI has happily learnt from its, well, ugly 790GX-GD65 and gone with a black and blue theme for its P55-GD65 board this time around. It certainly looks particularly tasty as every port and socket gets the two colour treatment - even the nickel plated heatpipe fits with the theme.
The heatpipe on the GD65 is now 8mm thick - what MSI calls its SuperPipe - and is larger to improve heat transfer between the two heatsinks. There's not far to go through, since the two screwed to the seven phases of power are the limit of its travel. MSI has dropped the P55 southbridge where we'd expect, down by the PCI-Express slots, and as such there's a small aluminium cooler on top of that as well.
Squeezed down in the peripheral slots, MSI has used two blue x16 PCI-Express 2.0 lanes for SLI and CrossFire graphics, as well as an open-ended x4 PCI-E slot too. Due to the limitations of the P55 chip though, using the x4 will disable the other two x1 PCI-E links above, so beware.
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MSI has seven SATA ports - six of which are at right angles to the board, with another nestled in to sit just above the graphics card in the bottom x16 slot. Unfortunately a traditionally poor performing JMicron JMB363 chipset is used for this, the eSATA and IDE port. On the plus side though, MSI has powered the eSATA socket allowing future support for faster eSATA flash drives. That said, the GD65 is equally backwards because it still features a floppy port - quite frankly anyone demanding the use of one needs a re-education in flash drives or their PC removed entirely.
What's new though - and what makes the MSI P55 GD65 special? Well, for starters, MSI is bringing high end overclocker hardware to the mainstream on the GD65: the OC Genie is included, for example.
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Evolved from the Core Cell that was once soldered to MSI boards of old, the OC Genie chip is tiny in comparison (although don't let physical size deter you from its hardware attributes). In a similar guise to the Asus RoG chips on Republic of Gamer boards, the OC Genie is a hardware overclocking chip that works with a set of algorithms to provide the most optimal settings for doing the business of overclocking. Unlike Asus' RoG chip, which is integrated into the BIOS, MSI requires the use of a big "OC Genie" button that goes blue when pressed.