MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) review

Four slots bad, eight slots good?

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MSI's X79A-GD65 8D costs that little bit more than the Asus P9X79 Pro, which in turn is priced at a marginal premium to Gigabyte's X79-UD3.

So is it a case of incremental upgrades all along the line, or has MSI done enough to put this X79-based board in another class altogether?

MSI X79A GD65 8D

First up, the '8D' suffix indicates this is an eight-slot revision of the original four-DIMM GD65.

With that comes the aforementioned support for a rather mentalist amount of memory. If there's any application or usage model that requires 128GB on the desktop, we've yet to stumble across it.

And what about all that "Military Class" branding?

For starters, classy is one thing it ain't. But it does point towards a board that's specified for some fairly serious action.

Apart from components said to have passed the US MIL-STD-810G Certification for military use (yes, really), including Hi-c capacitors and DrMOS II MOSFETs, MSI also provides check points for measuring voltages.

Few people are likely to really call on such features, but over-engineered is better than under-engineered.

It certainly suggests the GD65 will shrug off long periods of running CPUs beyond stock frequency.

That's something you may well be tempted to do thanks to the ease with which the board can be overclocked.

MSI's OC Genie button allows for one-touch overclocking.

The 4GHz it enables with a Core i7 3960X isn't hugely exciting (the Asus P9X79 Pro's auto-OC tool hits 4.3GHz). But then MSI also provides a pair of Direct OC buttons, allowing you to tweak frequencies on the fly.

The final highlight involves dual BIOSes giving peace of mind that you won't brick your board during an firmware upgrade.

We liked

Over two hundred Earth pounds is a lot to invest is a mere motherboard.

So, we welcome the effort MSI has put into ensuring the GD65 8D keeps on trucking. That includes top spec components and features like dual BIOSes.

We also jive with the quick-and-easy overclocking tools.

We disliked

SATA support is a bit of an issue. Like any X79 board, you only get two native 6Gbps ports with the chipset.

Another four (including two via a header) come courtesy of an ASMedia controller.

However, some early GD65 8D adopters have reported poor performance from the ASMedia chip.


Sturdy build, excellent overclocking tools and dual BIOSes. Not the prettiest board, however.