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MSI P67A-GD55 Review and OC guide

post #1 of 627
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Hi and welcome to my combined review and OC guide for the MSI P67A-GD55!

I know that now that the P67 boards and LGA1155 CPU's are back on the market, people are looking for a board that suits their wants and needs. I see a major lack of MSI reviews. I did a Google search and only found 2. Fair enough, the GD55 and GD65 are pretty similar, but still.

LAYOUT

Ok, let's just do this quick and simple.



The board is gorgeous. The black/blue color scheme is nice and subtle, but might not fit in all PC's.

We've got the LGA1155 socket at the top of the board. It supports coolers with mounting for 1156 sockets, so older coolers will work too. To the right of that, we have 4 DDR3 slots. To be able to boot, it is required to have a DIMM in slot 1 (closest to the CPU).
Keep in mind that the RAM slots are close to the CPU. A big cooler will cover the first slot, so insert at least that 1 DIMM before mounting the cooler/mounting the fan on the cooler.

Around the socket we have the little MOSFET heatsinks. They are slightly inferior to the heatsinks on the GD65 as they are missing the heatpipe and are a little smaller. They are not designed to take a lot of heat and are mostly for show though. The GD55 has 6 phases, which is less than most high-end Asus and Gigabyte boards. They are however supposedly of higher quality, so they will do the job. The 1155 socket CPUs are only 95 W so they shouldn't be stressed too much anyway.

Next to the CPU we see a 4-pin fan connector which is controllable through software like Speedfan or MSI's own software. In case the fan on this connector turns off, the motherboard will attempt to restart the fan by going to max speed.
On the other side of the RAM slots, next to the 24-pin connector, we see 2 casefan connectors. Fans connected to these 2 connectors are NOT controllable through software.
Right above the upper PCI-E x1 slot and right below the 24-pin connector, we see the 2 other casefan connectors. These 2 ARE controllable through software. There is no safety on these and they will not attempt to restart your fans, should they fail.

We see 2 PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots. These slots support Crossfire and SLI in a x8/x8 configuration.
There are also 2 legacy PCI slots on the bottom edge of the board.

On the right edge of the board, we have 6 SATA connectors. Four of them are 3 Gb/s and two are 6 Gb/s. This is two 6 Gb/s connectors less than the GD65 has. The cables that come with the board are white, so if white doesn't fit your color scheme, make sure to get some other cables.

We also have the three big buttons on the bottom right edge of the board. The leftmost one is for turning on/off and the middle button that says "reset", well, resets the board. The OC Genie button is more interesting. If you press the OC Genie button and start the PC, the board overclocks the CPU automatically. It normally hits 4.1 or 4.2 GHz. This is a great feature for people who don't want to mess with it themselves. More on this later.

Lastly (and I almost missed this) we have these small LED's:



They light up to show how many phases are active when the board is running.


UEFI

So now you've hooked it all up and you're ready to go.

Let's take a look at the UEFI.



So this is the welcome page. Here you have five categories to choose from.

Green Power



Some power-saving options and the ability to enable/disable the phase LED's.

Utilities


Memory Test runs some kind of test and tells you if your memory passed. It takes half a minute and can't possibly be that thorough.
Live Update is some kind of update, sorry, didn't check what it does.
HDD Backup apparently let's you backup or something. I was in there and it asked for some driver disc. Dunno if it works.
Boot Screen let's you use a custom boot picture. Just put a picture on your USB pen, pop it in, and open this.

Overclocking



Frequency, timing, and voltage options ; CPU specs ; Memory-Z ; CPU features : Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)









Other BIOS screens:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Games



This is apparently supposed to let you play games, but I don't know how to make it work. Asks for some UEFI game CD.

Settings



Advanced:



M-Flash:



Security:



Boot:




The new UEFI is sleek and packed full of features. It also features mouse support, which is something a lot of us have been waiting for. I have a gripe about just that though:
The mouse support sucks. Not just a little, it literally doesn't work. After my 3rd visit, I just gave up and used the keyboard instead.

The UEFI sometimes doesn't register mouse clicks.
Some buttons need one click, some two (might be because it doesn't register the clicks), and you never which it is. This can lead to stupid mistakes where you double click a voltage and end up clicking on a random voltage because the menu opened on first click.
There's no scroll wheel support and the UEFI features lots of lists that need scrolling.
To make matters worse, you must not miss the scroll bar when you're dragging it. While dragging the scroll bar, you have to keep the mouse on the bar. And the mouse is invisible while dragging! Argh! Every time you miss the bar, it picks whatever voltage/multiplier/whatever you're pointing at at the time your mouse misses. And by choosing a setting, it closes the list and you have to start over! Just don't try it, use the keyboard. Pretend there was no mouse support and you'll feel much better.

Recommended changes

UEFI update

First you'll want to flash your UEFI to a recent one.
To flash it, download the latest UEFI version and use this: http://forum-en.msi.com/index.php?topic=108079.0
This tool is safer than the UEFI M-Flash so I recommend this to avoid failed flashes and bricked boards.

At the time of editing (August 13, 2011), I recommend version 1.13. Later BIOS'ed have turned out to be bugged, so this BIOS is the best choice even though newer versions are out.

DISCLAIMER: UEFI flashing can lead to bricking of your board. There's a 1/100000 chance that it'll fail and that the motherboard will become useless.

Phase LED's

If the LED's indicating how many phases are active are annoying you/ruining your color scheme, they can be deactivated in the Green Power category.


Overclocking

Ok, so now I've covered most of the features of this board, so let's get overclocking.

There are 3 ways to overclock on the GD55:

OC Genie
MSI Control Center
Manual UEFI overclocking


OC Genie:

This is a good option for people who CBA to overclock it themselves. It's as simple as turning the PC off, pressing the OC Genie button, and turning the PC on again. The button has a very distinctive click when it activates, it locks in place and when the PC is turned on, it'll light up. To disable, just do the same again.

I tried this for the sake of this review and... On my first boot, nothing happened. Confused, I rebooted and entered the UEFI. Doh! In the overclocking category there is an OC Genie option. It has to be enabled for the button to work. There is just one problem. This option doesn't appear until the button is pressed and it's disabled by default. Ouch, I think someone messed up. It's still easy, but it took a lot of the accesibility away. I'm hoping this is an issue with my board and that the feature is enabled by default on a board from factory.

With that out of the way, I rebooted. With the feature now enabled, the UEFI told me that OC Genie had been activated and then loaded Windows. No waiting or anything, just insta-OC. Nice. I logged in and opened CPU-Z, which reported a decent 4.2 Ghz OC just as expected.
Now here is where the flaws of automated overclocking shows: The vcore for my 4.2 Ghz OC was 1.392. I can, no BS, do 4.7 GHz with that kind of vcore. Is 1.4V a killer? No, that's unlikely. Then why am I complaining? Heat. This is a feature aimed at non-enthusiast that want more out of their PC. Do you expect them to have a high-end cooler? No, at least not all of them. This 1.392V vcore creates immense amounts of heat. I ran Prime Blend while writing this and I hit 68C. With a Megahalems. In a case with two massive 140mm fans in the top exhausting, a 120mm in the rear, also exhausting, and two 120mm's in the front. Just wait 'til average Joe uses this button with a stock Intel HSF in an HP case with a single 80mm exhaust.

It also overclocks RAM and it actually gave my RAM so much voltage (1.653V) that even MSI's own Control Center gave me a warning. Sure, they're rated for 1.65V, but then at least define a max voltage (1.65V is the max voltage for all RAM modules for Sandy Bridge). Not good, MSI.

Another thing is that the OC is permanent, it doesn't clock down when idle. A manual OC could save you some power.

All in all, the OC Genie is a nice feature for people who don't have the knowledge or time to do a manual OC. It is, however, an inferior solution and I recommend anyone to do the OC manually.

MSI Control Center

According to various reviews on the internet, overclocking in Windows is actually a viable option. That's where Control Center enters the scene. And then it trips over it's own feet and get's left in the dust.

No, I'll be fair, it's definitely possible to OC from Windows and it'll let you save your OC profiles permanently. It has all the voltage options built right in. Only the advanced features like EIST aren't available in the program. The only problem is that this program is really buggy. It is in fact so buggy that some features crash my PC and this is on a fresh Windows install. I've not done any OC'ing with this program as I'm more old-school, but I've heard good things about it.

To sum this feature up: It works. Most of the time...

If you're looking for help with voltages, it'll all be in the next section.


Manual UEFI overclocking

Here is my favorite.

UEFI OC'ing requires one to reboot whenever one makes a change, but with the boot times of UEFI, I'll say it's acceptable. The worst thing is having to load Windows. But that is also one of the only gripes I have about UEFI OC'ing.

If you can live with the waiting, the advantages are obvious. The UEFI features more options than the other OC solutions and I just like seeing my system boot with the new settings (and thereby proving that they are somewhat stable) instead of just doing nothing (which is what happens with Windows based OC'ing).

I have to say that this is the option I like the most. More options and better voltages/clock speeds than OC Genie and more reliable than MSI Control Center.

If you're looking for help with voltages, it'll all be in the next section.


How to overclock manually

Before overclocking, you need the right programs:

CPU-Z - For checking clock speeds and vcore
RealTemp - For temperatures
Prime95 - For stressing


A stock BIOS will look like this:



And under CPU Features:



CPU Base Frequency is the BCLK / FSB on these CPU's. Almost all frequencies are tied to this and it must not be changed. Doing so can lead to fried HDD's, SSD's and other bad stuff.

CPU Ratio is the multiplier used for overclocking. FSB / BCLK overclocking isn't possible since nearly all frequencies have been united in one.

”Adjust CPU Ratio in Windows”:
You'll want to disable this feature if overclocking in the UEFI as it'll override you UEFI overclock.
You'll want to enable this feature if overclocking in Windows as it's a requirement for Windows based OC'ing.

D1 CPU's:
Internal PLL Overvoltage has to be disabled.
D2 CPU's:
Internal PLL Overvoltage has to be set to auto for ~4.5 GHz overclocks and up. With PLL Overvoltage disabled, the PC will fail to boot at some point.
I've heard that the limit may vary, so some of you may be able to hit higher OC's without enabling this setting.

EIST: Set to enabled to get lower idle speeds (lower power consumption).

Disable Turbo Boost unless you're using it to OC. I personally don't but it's up to preference.

Disable OC Genie Button Operation. It's only for use with the OC Genie button.

Set DRAM Frequency so the RAM runs at it's rated speed or leave at auto and use X.M.P.

Enable X.M.P. if your RAM supports it and it'll set your RAM at the rated speeds, timings, and possibly voltage too (you can override the voltage by setting it manually). If you're more technical, you can disable this and set frequencies and timings yourself.

Set DRAM timing to linked if you want to enter the timings manually. It can be left on auto, but I do it manually.

If you set DRAM Timing to linked, enter Advanced DRAM Configuration to enter timings manually.

Spread Spectrum should be disabled for stability.
Quote:
Originally Posted by B!0HaZard;12907291 
Basically, if you have multiple PC's close to each other working at the same clocks, the magnetic fields can interfere with each other and cause stability problems. Spread Spectrum changes BCLK slightly to avoid interference.
It's made for offices with multiple computers, so most of us will never experience problems with it disabled. I don't even think it's a problem if you do have multiple PC's.


VDroop Control is supposed to be LLC (a function that eliminates VDroop, allowing better OC's), but it doesn't seem to affect anything. Leave on high. Auto is apparently supposed to be high VDroop, meaning low/no LLC and low VDroop is supposed to be high/max LLC. Low VDroop Control will give better overclocking, but shorter CPU life when the functions work.

CPU Core Voltage is the voltage you want to change for CPU OC'ing. 1.3V should be enough for a 4.5 GHz OC. Intel has a max VID of 1.52V, but that doesn't really help us much since max VID =/= max safe voltage. I'd personally stay under 1.45V and that should be enough for OC's in the 4.8 – 4.9 GHz range.

CPUIO is for RAM overclocking, especially with 4 DIMM's. Keep at 1.05V. Try to stay below 1.10V, but if necessary (RAM instabillity at high frequencies), bump it to 1.15V. This setting is irrelevant for CPU OC'ing.

DRAM voltage is what it says, set this to what your RAM is rated for. Intel doesn't recommend voltages over 1.575V, but according to Bit-tech's guide to OC'ing, it's okay up to 1.65V. I'll have to agree and say that it's alright up to 1.65 V. This setting is irrelevant for CPU OC'ing.

System Agent should stay @ 0.925V. Don't go over 0.975V. This setting is irrelevant for CPU OC'ing, but can help stabilize a RAM OC.

Some sources say that CPU PLL can help stability and some say that it can't. Should be 1.71V < CPU PLL < 1.89V. Some people have actually seen increased stability with lower voltages, so if you're right on the edge of stability, try first lowering and then increasing this voltage.
For D2 stepping CPU's, most will only need to enable Internal PLL Overvoltage. On D1 chips, it can be helpful to use higher PLL voltage because they don't support Internal PLL Overvoltage.

DDR3 VREF and PCH voltages should be left on auto according to Bit-tech. If you decide to tweak the PCH voltage, keep it conservative, the heatsinks aren't built for huge overvoltages. I believe these are irrelevant for CPU OC'ing.

Under CPU Features you'll want to do this:

Enable Execute Disable Bit and Intel Virtualization Tech, while disabling Limit CPUID Maximum and OverSpeed Protection. Enable C-State and set Package C-State Limit to "no limit".
If you're using Turbo Boost to overclock, I believe it's here the multiplier can be changed.

With all these changes, your BIOS should look something like this:



Of course with your own multiplier, DRAM Frequency, Core Voltage and DRAM Voltage.

Under CPU Features it should look like this:





As a final note, I'd like to mention that MSI boards overcompensate the vcore grossly when under load. Expect your load vcore to be 0.02 to 0.04V higher than you set it in BIOS. If anyone finds a fix for this then I'll be very grateful.

Stress testing:

Early in SB's life, it was thought that Prime Blend was the best option, but because of an idle bug, it's actually best to just let the PC idle for 12 hours. Web browsing and light gaming is okay. No crashing means you have a good chance of being stable. Instabilities might show up later though.

It's still a good idea to run Prime just to make sure nothing will overheat at your new OC, but it's a bad way to stress test.


Here is an example of how I did it:



Note how my 4.7 GHz netted me the same temp as OC Genie's 4.2 GHz.

These settings will not work for everyone.

That is it from me for now. I hope you can use this review/OC guide.

EDIT October 2014: Almost all images reuploaded because Imageshack is no longer free.
Edited by B!0HaZard - 10/23/14 at 9:41am
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post #2 of 627
Quote:
Originally Posted by B!0HaZard;12710826 
I see a major lack of MSI reviews. I did a Google search and only found 2.

Hate to be the one to tell you but there are actually 7 site reviews about this mobo wink.gif It's because of those reviews I had decided to buy this mobo biggrin.gif
Edited by drBlahMan - 3/12/11 at 10:52pm
post #3 of 627
Thanks for this. Got me from 4.6ghz to 4.8 rock solid. I bought this mobo as a placeholder for the MEIV once it became available but I'm having second thoughts since it's so dam stable.
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post #4 of 627
i wanted this board but it was nowhere to be found in stock...
maybe i will try and get my hands on one later smile.gif
    
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post #5 of 627
Hey guys

I haveing a problems with my new GIGABYTE p67a-ud3p b3 board i like to change the board and i like to get some INFO for MSI P67A-GD65.

1. MSI P67A-GD65 boards, enabling turbo shouldn’t make your multiplier go crazy? when you OC GIGABYTE board are multiplier set the trubo.
Asus MB go up and down multiplier turbo I do not like e turbo lag ?

2. it has Vdroop control ??? becuse my gigabyte board when load vdroop and unstalbe?

3. has 24 phase power VRM ???

please give me Info

thanks you very much
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post #6 of 627
wow! excellent review. thank you for putting all of this time into it. i wont be doing the same, lol.. ive had my board since thursday and absolutely love it. sometime today im gonna post a few pics and my small review in the "owners club" thread.

you read my mind about the O.C. genie. WAAAYY to much voltage. luckily im using the cooler master hyper 212+, so i didnt worry to much about those 20 minutes i was using it. also, im not sure if you understand this, but acording to the owners manual, you need to "program" the genie before first use. you need to shut your system down, then turn the switch on, then turn your system back on. the first time you do this its in a "learning" stage and wont overclock. after the 1st time, all will work perfectly.

the ONLY complaint i have about this board, and i cant even complain about it since i was well aware of it before buying it, is that it has ONLY 1 usb header. so i used that header for my memory card reader, then used a dremel, and did a little fabricating, and mounted the usb 3.0 ports it comes with on the front of my case... problem solved! i mean, i now have 2 inactive 2.0 ports on the front of my case, but that bothers me none.

also, in your first picture, that top heatsink, the one that says "o.c. genie II" on it... not the actual heatsink itself, but that thin little piece on metal glued on it (with the words o.c. genie II) fell off during installation..
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post #7 of 627
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBlahMan;12712447 
Hate to be the one to tell you but there are actually 7 site reviews about this mobo wink.gif It's because of those reviews I had decided to buy this mobo biggrin.gif
That is kinda embarrasing... You sure they aren't reviews of the GD65?
Quote:
Originally Posted by septro;12714698 
Thanks for this. Got me from 4.6ghz to 4.8 rock solid. I bought this mobo as a placeholder for the MEIV once it became available but I'm having second thoughts since it's so dam stable.
It's a sweet board, just stick with it and save the money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by yoyo711;12715222 
Hey guys

I haveing a problems with my new GIGABYTE p67a-ud3p b3 board i like to change the board and i like to get some INFO for MSI P67A-GD65.

1. MSI P67A-GD65 boards, enabling turbo shouldn’t make your multiplier go crazy? when you OC GIGABYTE board are multiplier set the trubo.
Asus MB go up and down multiplier turbo I do not like e turbo lag ?

2. it has Vdroop control ??? becuse my gigabyte board when load vdroop and unstalbe?

3. has 24 phase power VRM ???

please give me Info

thanks you very much
__________________
I'm terribly sorry, but I didn't really understand that. You'll have to try making it more clear what you mean.

But no, the board doesn't have 24 phases, it's a 6 phase board. It's SFC phases though, so it should be all good.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jakegday;12715389 
-snip-

Glad you liked it. Bit surprising that it fell off, but if anything it'll just improve performance. They're mostly for show anyway.
Edited by B!0HaZard - 3/13/11 at 10:42am
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post #8 of 627
Quote:
Originally Posted by B!0HaZard;12716079 
That is kinda embarrasing... You sure they aren't reviews of the GD65?

I'm terribly sorry, but I didn't really understand that. You'll have to try making it more clear what you mean.

But no, the board doesn't have 24 phases, it's a 6 phase board. It's SFC phases though, so it should be all good.

==========================================================

Hello B!0HzAard


When you setting the OC(like 4.8Mhz) go to bios and you need to change the multiplier turbo & voltages. and looking at cpu-z.
stay at 4.8Mhz or multiplier turbo go up and down(when you are not load it stay at 1.5Mhz and up 4.8Mhz)

what is SFC phases ????

thanks you very much !!
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Endless Overclock
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post #9 of 627
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yoyo711;12716395 
Quote:
Originally Posted by B!0HaZard;12716079 
That is kinda embarrasing... You sure they aren't reviews of the GD65?

I'm terribly sorry, but I didn't really understand that. You'll have to try making it more clear what you mean.

But no, the board doesn't have 24 phases, it's a 6 phase board. It's SFC phases though, so it should be all good.

==========================================================

Hello B!0HzAard


When you setting the OC(like 4.8Mhz) go to bios and you need to change the multiplier turbo & voltages. and looking at cpu-z.
stay at 4.8Mhz or multiplier turbo go up and down(when you are not load it stay at 1.5Mhz and up 4.8Mhz)

what is SFC phases ????

thanks you very much !!

Oh, I think I got it now.
My multiplier does go up and down, yes. I idle @ 1.6 GHz and load @ 4.8 GHz. But it can be disabled so it always runs @ 4.8 GHz and doesn't go up and down.

SFC phases (Super Ferrite Chokes) are more stable and reliable than normal phases according to MSI.
M1XN
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Study Zenbook
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M1XN
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Study Zenbook
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Crucial M4 64 GB Crucial M4 128 GB SAMSUNG Spinpoint M9T 2 TB LiteOn DL-8ATSH 
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post #10 of 627
B!0HaZard,

awesome guide.. thanks for this. Im trying to overclock my i5 2500k to 4.6, but have a quick question. how do i do the Prime 95 test? I just installed it and is there any changes that I need to make to the settings?

Thanks!
AmiMonster
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AmiMonster
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