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MSI P55M-GD45 review

The MSI's pint-sized P55 micro-ATX Core i5 motherboard has landed

Our Verdict

A decent motherboard that's at a great price, but true overclockers should look elsewhere

For

  • Less than a ton
  • Still feature-packed

Against

  • Limited OC potential
  • Full size boards don't cost much more

When Intel's first Core i7 architecture touched down last year there was a great amount of excitement surrounding the X58 chipset. It was fast, efficient and, with the new Core i7 chips, it was the platform everyone wanted.

Unfortunately, thanks to all the server-style loveliness the setup encompassed, it also came at a very high price. Many people decided then that the slightly cut down micro-ATX boards, which came later, represented a sacrifice worth making for the savings.

History looks set to repeat itself here with these smaller but still feature-packed P55 revisions, and MSI is one of the first to the P55 party with the P55M-GD45 socket 1156 motherboard.

We've been waiting to see P55 motherboards dropping below the £100 mark and, with the micro-ATX boards now hitting the shelves, we've finally got our wish.

Coupled with a Core i5 CPU you can set yourself up with a mobo, chip and memory for £300; a bundle that will keep you sweet for a while to come.

Paying the price

So what are the sacrifices when dropping down to the smaller board? Well, not as much as you might think.

Sure, the board layout is more cramped and you don't get as many SATA ports as the larger, pricier boards, but in performance terms it's still in with a shout.

At stock frequencies the £200 Gigabyte UD6 only manages to shave a couple of seconds off its Cinebench time and can only add another 10fps onto the WiC score. With your standard components running out of the box then you're not really losing out too much by dropping in the m-ATX board.

Where you are losing out is in the overclocking stakes. That's almost a given though with this cheaper board using cheaper components and fewer phases in the power circuitry offering lower overheads. That said we still managed to get some decent scores out of it.

The OC Genie feature claims to offer the best overclocking settings for your system simply by enabling it in the BIOS. While it actually gave us a fairly poor overclock (only 3.05GHz), it did give us a heads-up on the voltage settings we could use.

With only a little extra tweaking to the OC Genie's setup, we hit a pretty chunky 3.6GHz core clockspeed, with the processor Turbo-ing to 3.8GHz and 4.3GHz in multi- and single threaded apps respectively.

However, the more expensive Gigabyte board was able to far exceed that speed without voltage tweakery, and that inevitably is why you pay the extra money.

But, on a board that's less than half the price, you really can't sniff at its performance. Unless of course you are planning on clocking the nuts off your rig.

The sacrifice of dropping an m-ATX board into a standard size case isn't going to limit you much with this latest breed of tech.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelP55 Express
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFire
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots2
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket 1156
Brand NameMSI
Form FactorMicro ATX
Processor SupportedCore i7, Core i5
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory16 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots1
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of IDE Interfaces1
Number of SATA Interfaces8
QuickPath Interconnect6.40 GT/s
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots4
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports10
Total Number of FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports2
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports2
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
Total Number of PCI Express Slots3
Processor TechnologyEnhanced SpeedStep Technology
Width235 mm
Depth244 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product ModelP55M-GD45
Product NameP55M-GD45 Desktop Board
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Ultra ATA/133 (ATA-7)
Manufacturer Part NumberP55M-GD45
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.msicomputer.com
Marketing Information

The P55M-GD45 Desktop Board is based on Intel P55 chipset for optimal system efficiency. Designed to fit the advanced Intel Lynnfield LGA 1156 processor, the P55M-GD45 Desktop Board is deliver a high performance and professional desktop platform solution.

Limited Warranty3 Year