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MSI A75MA-G55 review

A wee microATX board for the Llano generation

As a whole we've been impressed by what the desktop version of AMD's Llano can produce, both in terms of graphics and more surprisingly in its raw computational chops.

We paired up AMD's top APU, the A8-3850, with this board from MSI to see what we could get out of this smaller mobo compared with the full-fat Asus F1A75-V Pro.

At stock speeds it's all good.

The MSI board happily keeps pace with the larger Asus offering, with performance only a shade off. The A75MA-G55 is also rather well-heeled in the features department too, showing off full SATA 6Gb/s coverage and USB 3.0 sockets out back and through a break-out box too.

With a little light coaxing we also managed to squeeze out 1,600MHz from our DDR3 RAM, making a surprising difference in games performance – especially with a discrete card installed in Dual Graphics mode too.

But this is a brand new chipset and brand new software too, so it's only to be expected that there be teething troubles with the BIOS.

It took a little extra effort to get the extra memory speed, but sadly the same though couldn't be said for any overclocking shenanigans.

The amount of overclocking headroom in the Llano desktop APU is one of the things that impressed us most. The notebook version had a very weak CPU part, but the Lynx platform has a lot of potential in it.

We managed to hit 3.7GHz with our 2.9GHz APU sample on the Asus motherboard.

According to MSI's old school, non-EFI BIOS we were able to hit over 5GHz on air. Unfortunately our astonishment at this feat evaporated when it transpired the motherboard was doing nothing of the sort.

In fact we couldn't force any extra performance out of the A8-3850 APU at all. Not a single silicon sausage.

Now as an HTPC it's not a massive problem, and I'm sure subsequent BIOS updates may well affect a change in this lack of performance, but for now it's tough to recommend knowing what you could get out of that APU.

We liked

As an HTPC motherboard, with no pretentions towards enthusiast performance, it's a great price and fit for the mATX scale and AMD Llano Fusion APUs.

It's also impressive that you can get almost the same stock performance out of this motherboard as the more expensive Asus board.

We disliked

As much as it's not so important for the HTPC arena this board's aimed at, the fact there is zero overclocking capability is a bit of a downer. Though that does seem like a BIOS issue rather than a hardware failure.

Final word

As a form factor the mATX size is a perfect match for the Llano platform, this vaguely broken MSI board however is currently anything but a perfect match.