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Sitting between these two boards is the P55-GD65, which is priced at $160 making it one of the cheaper boards featured in this round-up.
Feature-wise the MSI P55-GD65 is similar to the more expensive Asus P7P55D Deluxe offering Firewire, dual Gigabit LAN and 8 SATA ports. At just $40 more than the ECS P55H-A, you seem to be getting more for your money, though we feel the biggest advantages will be seen when overclocking. For now lets check the boards features in greater detail
The MSI P55-GD65 features 4 DIMM slots and just 2 PCIe x16 slots like the ECS P55H-A. These are the two only motherboards in our round-up that don't offer 3 PCIe x16 slots, which may or not be a deal breaker for you.
Improving on the standard storage capabilities of the P55 chipset, MSI has included the JMicron 363 controller which supports an additional 2 SATA ports (8 total). However just one of these ports can be found on-board while the other has been mounted on the I/O panel where it acts as an eSATA port.
Whereas Asus went for an old VIA 6308P controller that uses the PCI bus to gain Firewire support, MSI stepped it up a notch with the more modern VIA VT6315N controller. This controller utilizes the PCI Express bus and can detect connected device types, automatically configuring data speeds to 100, 200, or 400 Mbps transmitting both asynchronous and isochronous (real-time) data packets.
Another error Asus made with in the P7P55D Deluxe was their choice in LAN controllers, which again saw them use an outdated chip that used the PCI bus. MSI got it right with a pair of Realtek RTL8111DL controllers, both of which use the PCI Express bus for maximum throughput.
The audio has been taken care of by the ALC889 codec which is one of the more high-end offerings from Realtek providing 8-channel audio. There are also quite a large number of MSI engineered features such as APS (Active Phase Switching), Direct OC, OC Genie, DrMOS, V-Check Points, M-Flash and USB Safeguard.
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