The MSI 890GXM-G65
The MSI 890GXM-G65
The next AMD 890GX board we received is the MSI 890GXM-G65, which comes in a microATX form factor. That basically means that the expansion slots are reduced when compared to the standard ATX-sized Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H. Surprisingly though, two PCIe 2.0 x16 graphics card slots are still present on this microATX board. The shrink also did not affect the feature set, as this MSI board comes with a rear I/O panel that's comparable with Gigabyte. There are some differences, with MSI preferring an eSATA port to FireWire. As usual, the USB ports in blue are the faster 3.0 ones.
Due to the eSATA port, the number of SATA 6Gbit/s ports onboard are down to five. These are arranged at the edge of the board near the front panel connectors, in an almost optimal layout. One port however can be blocked potentially by a second dual-slot graphics card, but at least the odds are in its favor. Unlike the Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H, this MSI mATX board skips the floppy controller; space is a luxury here, though the IDE connector remains.
The limited PCB is probably why its layout is less than perfect. For instance, the retention clips on the DIMM slots are too close to the PCIe graphics slot. It's almost certain that an installed modern graphics card, even of the mid-range variety, will be in the way if you're planning to change the memory modules. At least, MSI has shown care in ensuring that one of its passive heatsink that's right next to the graphics slot is designed such that there's no interference.
While we have been duly impressed by MSI's OC Genie feature on recent boards, it's a shame that it did not make this board. MSI offers what it calls OC Genie Lite, which apparently means that when this feature is enabled and one is using the integrated graphics core, the GPU is automatically set to 800MHz, which is a 100MHz overclock from the default.
The other overclocking feature on the 890GXM-G65 is the presence of MSI's Easy OC Switch, which allows one to increase the base clock by certain fixed intervals. We have previously commented on the redundancy of such a feature given that one can adjust the base clock in the BIOS and MSI has not changed our minds here.
Finally, as one expects from a top tier vendor, MSI has laid it thick when it comes to the 'quality' components, from the usual solid capacitors to active phase switching for the CPU power delivery that promoted more efficient power usage. For a board that's going for around US$130, all that we've mentioned are what consumers have come to expect and MSI does not disappoint.