MSI kindly let us come preview its upcoming P67 hardware in the flesh last week, and we got a glimpse of its upcoming P67A-GD65 motherboard. At the moment MSI is keeping its cards close to its chest and is denying the existence of a higher spec P67-based motherboard, but we wouldn't be surprised if one surfaced at a later date.
The CPU heatsinks are quite modest in size, but the design looks good
MSI's 'Military Class 2' theme for its P67-series continues its the Military Grade branding both its motherboards and graphics cards now boast. The P67A-GD65 has SFC chokes (claiming '30 per cent higher power'), 'Tantalum core' High-c CAP and other Nippon Chemicon solid capacitors. MSI told us that it would have actual military class certification for the component combination in December, ready prior to the P67 launch, so at least it's actually more than just a name, even you're arguably more likely to win the lottery than see your PC inside a tank.
MSI's power phases each provide 35 Amp per phase
Right now the P67A-GD65 uses the same brown PCB as the upcoming Asus P67 motherboards, and it keeps the both this and the black and blue slots that its P55-based predecesors had too. Only the SATA 6Gbps ports have gone white.
The GD65 does include two extra SATA 6Gbps ports via a Marvell 88SE9128NAA2 chipset, in addition to the two from the Intel P67 chipset. There's no IDE port available on any of MSI's Sandy Bridge motherboards, including this one.
MSI now includes front panel USB pin-outs with a high-power charging mode (in red)
The GD65 sports a simpler 6+2 phase DrMOS design than the other P67 motherboards we've seen, but MSI has chosen its branded SFC chokes and High-C caps to differentiate its approach, as it doesn't see much value in simply increasing the number of power phases. There are LEDs to denote the phase use along the top of the board, so we expect GreenPower is still being used too.
The GD65 also has two 16x PCI-E slots for SLI and CrossFireX, and two front and two rear USB 3 ports, although the pin-out is a little difficult to spot along the base. MSI has also (finally) opted for the dual-BIOS approach, with one as back-up.
You may have noticed the voltage measurement points in the top right hand corner too, and if you look below there's a tiny clear CMOS button nestled into the rear I/O as well: both are useful, thanks, MSI.
The rear I/O panel
To round off the extra features, there's Firewire from a VIA VT830P controller, eSATA support from a JMicron JMB362 chip, Gigabit Ethernet and 7.1 channel HD Audio from a Realtek RTL8111E and ALC892 chip respectively. Finally, there's also OC Genie II, which claims to be faster at automatic overclocking (it should be given there's only the CPU multiplier to overclock), but we've no more details on it than that right now.