Back in August we reviewed the Asus P6X58D-E and the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R, both of which we loved. Their keen prices and excellent overclocking potential meant both of them made an excellent home for a powerful LGA1366 CPU, and they both walked away with a bit-tech Excellence Award as a result. One of these two boards were the obvious choice for an affordable LGA1336 PC until the Asus Sabertooth X58 came along with its war paint and posh heatsinks to turn our heads. However, even the Sabertooth faces strong competition from this new MSI motherboard.
The first thing we noticed about the X58-GD65 when we took it out of its box is that it looks significantly more austere than the boards it competes with. Maybe this is as a result of it hitting the low price point of £135 but some of the design decisions taken by MSI don’t seem to have helped either. Top of this list of these decisions is the dull black and brown PCB and the gun-metal grey heatsinks which, while inoffensive, hardly look striking.
Click to enlarge
Once you get past the aesthetics of the board, it becomes obvious that the general layout of the board is clean. The eight SATA ports are all aligned parallel to the board for easy cabling, with the two SATA 6Gbps ports picked out in white to differentiate them. The expansion slots are also sensibly arranged, with the three 16x PCI-E slots well spaced out to give multiple graphics cards room to breathe.
The heatsinks also passed our strenuous wobble test with flying colours, largely due to the fact that they are held to the board with screws as opposed to flimsy plastic push pins wrapped in a flimsy spring. You’ll have notice by now that there weren’t actually many heatsinks for us to wobble though, as the GD65 eschews the elaborate heatpipe assemblies of its competitors. This, MSI claims, is made possible by the rather novel VRM circuitry that the GD65 uses.
The eight Icy Chokes are claimed to run up to 20oC cooler than normal chokes, while the ‘High-c’ capacitors (the flat, square things between the cuboid chokes and the CPU sockets) have a higher than normal thermal tolerance, according to the spec sheet. This means that only the row of MOSFETs require cooling, and only by a small and narrow heatsink.
Click to enlarge
We have to admit that we were slightly dubious about such claims, but even when running a heavily overclocked CPU the heatsink and chokes were still only slightly warm to the touch, which is impressive. The side effect of this intriguing VRM layout is that there is a lot less clutter around the CPU socket, meaning you’ve got far more room to fit an oversized CPU cooler.
Chipset Intel X58
CPU support LGA1366 Core i7, Core i7 Extreme Edition
Memory support 6 slots: max 24GB DDR3 (2,200MHz)
Expansion slots Three 16x PCI-E 2.0 slots (two 16x and one 4x), two PCI, two 1x PCI-E
Sound Intel HD Audio via Realtek ALC892 with 8-channel support
Networking Realtek 8111DL Gigabit Ethernet
Overclocking CPU Clock 100 – 400MHz; max voltages, CPU +630mV, CPU PLL 2.43V, QPI 1.83V IOH 2.37V, ICH 2.13V, RAM 2.77V
Ports 6 x SATA 3Gbps, 2 x SATA 6Gbps, 2 x PS/2, 6 x USB 2, 2 x USB 3, FireWire, LAN, 4 x surround audio out, line in, mic, optical and coxaial S/PDIF out