MSI's BIOS is very good for overclocking support, but could still use improvements to its other features. On the CPU tweaking front there's every adjustment we need: CPU-multiplier, CPU-northbridge, Hypertransport and memory divider, as well as a clear indicator what the setting will do to the overall clock speeds: this is particularly important for the Hypertransport adjustment that changes everything.
The voltage options are very good too - actually even better in terms of mixing the CPU VDD and CPU voltage together, because the former jumps the voltage by large chunks, and the latter smaller 0.01V increments. Unfortunately you still can't type in the desired voltage: this is still where Gigabyte and Asus' BIOS' are quicker to use.
Enabling the Nvidia Core Calibration automatically unlocks extra AMD cores, which is both good from an ease of use standpoint, but crappy if you have a weak hidden core and just want to use the calibration tweak the most of what you bought. Another "confirm unlock" option would have been ideal here.
There are absolutely tons of memory tweaking settings to play with in its subdirectory, and just like more expensive boards you can tweak each channel independently even if you like. On the downsides though, recently we've found M-Flash a little flaky - across AMD and Intel boards it's bricked a few, and without a second BIOS backup that means its RMA time. Not a great record, and we now suggest avoiding using it to be safe.
The fan control is OK, but limited to just the CPU only and targeting a temperature or specific voltage value, and elsewhere while there's four profile slots to save all the BIOS settings to, none of them can be labelled to remind us what's inside. MSI has not pushed and listened to our needs where Asus and Gigabyte continually have done.
With the exception of SiSoft Sandra and Lavalys Everest, all of our benchmarks have been engineered to give you numbers that you are likely to find useful when actually using the products we have evaluated in the real world.
We are also focusing a lot more of our time on evaluating the stability of the motherboards (and platforms) using a stress test designed to highlight any of the potential weaknesses that the product may have. That involves a gradually increasing amount of stress starting with Prime95 torture test on all cores and expanding to a looping 3DMark06. This is to ensure that all parts of the system are stressed simultaneously over a period of time.
We believe that the consumer is never likely to subject their platform to this level of stress and we are not expecting every product to complete an entire extended stress test. However, most poorly engineered products fail within the first couple of hours, or even minutes, allowing us to make a conscious decision on whether a motherboard (or platform) is worth your money, regardless of how well it performs in our benchmarks.
- MSI NF750-G55 (Nvidia nForce 750a MCP xx BIOS)
- MSI 770-C45 (AMD 770X/SB710 1.3 BIOS)
- Asus M4A785TD-V Evo (AMD 785G/SB710 0211 BIOS)
- AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition (3x2.8GHz)
- 4GB Corsair XMS3 PC12800 CL9
- Asus Radeon HD 4350 and Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP! for gaming tests
- PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750W PSU
- Seagate 7200.11 1TB SATA hard drive
- Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit SP1
- Nvidia nForce driver 15.49
- Nvidia 190.38 WHQL
- MSI NF750-G55 (Nvidia nForce 750a MCP): 4x3.7GHz (18.5 x 200MHz), 2.6GHz NB, 1,600MHz DDR3 at 8-8-8-24-1T
- MSI 770-C45 (AMD 770X/SB710): 3x3.5GHz (15.5 x 225MHz HT), 2.2GHz NB, 1,500MHz DDR3 at 8-8-8-24-1T,
- Asus M4A785TD-V Evo (AMD 785G/SB710): 3x3.5GHz (15.5 x 225MHz HT), 2.25GHz NB, 1,525MHz DDR3 at 8-8-8-24-1T.