MSI P67A-GD65 (B3) Motherboard Review
This full length ATX board has a black and blue theme which is very common for Sandybridge board from the 3 major manufacturers. The board features MSI Military Class II specification which means that they have employed super ferrite chokes (SFC), Hi-Caps and solid capacitors. These help improve power delivery and efficiency while extending component life cycles. MSI employs a 6 phase power setup for the processor and 2 phase setup for memory (6+2 design). Each phase can deliver up to 35 amperes.
The voltage regulation circuitry is covered by passive heat-sinks connected by a heat pipe.
There is enough clearance around the socket area for the largest of heat sinks (we successfully tested the board with Thermalright HR-02).
The active phase switching LEDs are located to the right of the Lottes manufactured LGA 1155 socket.
Right in front of the 4 DDR3 memory slots are the power connector and V-check points. These points aid in measuring/ monitoring board voltages (CPU, VTT, PCH and memory). A blessing for purists who do not rely on EFI or software readings! Three system fan connectors are also found located right next to the V-check point and one to the left of the 24 pin power connector respectively.
The board features 8 right angles SATA ports. The SATA 6 Gbps ports are at the periphery (white), while the SATA 3 Gbps ports are central (black). The extra 6 Gbps ports come from a Marvell 88SE9128 controller. A JMicron controller provides E-SATA connectivity.
The P67 chipset lies under a low profile heatsink which should not interfere with multi-slot GPUs.
The first PCI-e x16 connector lies in the line of SATA ports, it will be difficult to plug/ unplug devices to the affected ports when a large graphics card is installed. It would be wise to connect the SATA devices before installing a graphics card. The second PCI-e x16 slot (electrical x8) is a tad too close to the front panel connectors (power, reset etc). The two PCI-e x1 slots are located between the x16 slots, while a lone x1 slot is located to the right of the x16 PCI-e slot. The two PCI slots are located towards the left edge of the board. With two dual slot GPUs installed, the board will still have 1 PCI and 2 PCI-e x1 slots available for use.
The OC Genie, power and reset buttons are located along the left edge of the board together with the USB (2.0 and 3.0, the latter powered by a NEC chip), IEEE 1394 and front audio ports headers. The red (eye sore) USB connector can super charge mobile devices (IPods etc) quick like by providing optimal voltage.
The board sports dual EFI (the two yellow ICs to the right and above the red USB header).
The IO area provides a wealth of connectivity options; Realtek LAN and Audio codec (892), both co-axial and optical SP/DIF, USB 2.0 (6) and USB 3.0 (2) ports. E-SATA connectivity as well as a legacy PS2 mouse/ keyboard connector complete the list.
The back of the board is devoid of any large solder points (or other structures) which would prevent after market cooler back plate installation. All the heat-sinks are held in place by screws which makes removal and reapplication of thermal compound really easy (we all know how good default TIM is!).
There are 5 fan connectors strategically located all over the board. The CPU fan connector is a 4pin variety while the rest are the usual 3pin variety.
Overall the board is well designed. There are a couple of things MSI could have done better (like positioning of SATA and front panel connectivity ports), but nothing that breaks board’s usability.