We've already taken a look at MSI's mainstream AMD mobo fitted with Lucid's cross-vendor, multi-GPU Hydra chip, the 870A Fuzion. Now it's the turn of the Intel-powered stablemate, the P55A Fuzion, to be in the firing line.
And wouldn't you just know it, it's based on Intel's P55 Express chipset. By pitching the P55A Fuzion at the consumer market, MSI has a motherboard that, thanks to the Hydra technology, offers multi GPU support as well as mix-and-match GPUs in a market segment where users would benefit the most from the ability to put AMD and Nvidia cards together in the same motherboard.
The only genuine alternative to be able to have the option of running either a CrossFire or SLI setup (but not mix and match) is to dig a fair bit deeper into your wallet and go for a high-end multi GPU-supporting board based around Intel's top-end, but ageing, X58 chipset.
Setting up the Lucid's Hydra 200 technology on MSI's P55A Fuzion poses very few problems, if any. Just install both cards, install both sets of drivers and then finally install the Hydra software and reboot.
Even without the Hydra technology, MSI's P55A Fuzion is a hugely impressive board. It's certainly one of the best overall performing boards we have cast our eyes over that's based around Intel's mainstream P55 Express chipset.
Both the P55 and the Lucid Hydra chipset are passively cooled by modest looking heatsinks; they look almost inadequate after the spate of huge copper coolers we've seen on motherboards recently.
It may be a mainstream board, but that hasn't stopped MSI packing it full of goodies normally found on a high-end board; top quality components in the power circuitry, OC Genie – MSI's automatic overclocking technology, lossless 24-bit audio and a BIOS chip full of overclocking features. Needless to say, you also get SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0.
Once again, MSI has split the two USB 3 ports, one is on the back I/O connector group as normal, while the other sits inboard just behind the audio connecting stack on the rear I/O.
One thing to take care with, though, is the 8-pin 12V power connector, because a capacitor sits very close to the connector on the board. It's mighty close for comfort.
Apart from that, it's a well laid-out board with plenty of room around its components. In particular, there's plenty of space between the two PCI-E x16 slots so you can fit a couple of cards with those large, non-standard coolers in without compromising the airflow going to them.
MSI's P55A Fuzion is a well thought-out motherboard that also happens to be one of the best performing P55 Express boards around. Add to that the Hydra technology and a very good list of features for the price point, and it becomes a very interesting option indeed.
Full marks to MSI then for pitching the idea of multi-vendor, multi-GPU support at an audience where it possibly makes more sense, and then adding it to a board that's already very good in its own right.
It also seems that Lucid's Hydra technology works a little better with an Intel chipset than AMD.
Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview