MSI has taken a different path to the over-the-top builds of GIGABYTE ASUS and ASRock. With the top-end GD80 more in line with the low cost ethos of the AMD FX processor it’s packed in a number of nice features but managed to keep the price tag down so far.
This is usually more to do with the amount of features and oversized coolers jammed into the PCB than it being inherently faster or more suited to a particular usage model. Interestingly the GD80 isn’t feature-shy at all and offers things some of the other boards can’t.
The GD80 sports the usual array of SATA 6Gb/s ports (six on this model) and four USB 3.0 connections; two internal and two on the back plate. There’s FireWire six external USB 2.0 ports and the usual analogue and digital audio outputs.
This is where it gets fun. Like the ASUS board this one supports the new THX PC badging program called THX TruStudio which attempts to set a minimum level of performance for virtual surround sound MP3 sound ‘restoration’ volume normalisation and dialogue enhancement for video and games. It’s a nice inclusion for multimedia buffs and gamers alike.
Supporting three-way SLI or four-way CrossFire (but only with single slot cards to fit them all in) the MSI also puts a single PCI-E x1 slot at the top of the PCI card lineup ensuring you still have room for an add-on card even when it’s full of VGA cards.
Available from MSI retailing for $249.
APC rating: 7/10