Sadly, MSI is tight on samples and we couldn't get our hands on the P67A-GD80. The P67A-GD65 probably made the most sense for this article given the competition, but that too is unavailable. We didn't think MSI would be in the roundup, but at the last minute they coughed up the P67A-GD55. It's admittedly not the competition for the Asrock P67 Extreme6, Asus P8P67 Deluxe and Gigabyte P67A-UD7, but it's all MSI could provide.
Nonetheless, given the P67A-GD55's ~$170 price tag, it's fairly well equipped. MSI has added USB 3.0, FireWire as well as Gigabit LAN and the company has recently been pushing their "Military Class II" design, which is an answer to Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3. Any MSI motherboard branded with the Military Class II label feature Hi-c Capacitors, Super Ferrite Chokes and Solid Capacitors.
MSI utilizes Hi-c CAPs made of the rare element Tantalum, which sustains very high temperatures and shows an amazingly high electrical conductivity. The SFC (Super Ferrite Choke) uses a Ferrite core that is Super-Permeable and runs 35 degrees Celsius cooler than the traditional choke. Solid Capacitors make bursting caps a non-issue along with ensuring a longer lifetime and ultra-low ESR.
You'll get this same marketing mumbo jumbo from board makers such as Asus and Gigabyte. While we are confident that these are better quality components, how much difference they really make is largely unknown to us.
Moving on to stuff that we know will make a difference, the P67A-GD55 carries a pair of NEC D720200F1 controllers which provide two USB 3.0 ports on the I/O panel and another two via onboard headers.
Unfortunately, while all other motherboards featured in our roundup include a 3.5" front mounting module for the additional USB 3.0 ports, the P67A-GD55 does not. This means that out of the box, these ports are useless unless you buy the optional bracket.
Although we couldn't find an OEM version of this part online, Silverstone sells one for $24. If you really want this part, you're best off upgrading to the P67A-GD65 which includes the bracket for roughly the price of purchasing it separately with the P67A-GD55.
As was the case with Asrock's board the 8-channel audio is delivered by the Realtek ALC892 codec which supports THX TruStudio Pro. Again, despite of having seen this chipset on numerous motherboards before, we can't find any real info on it. Realtek's site only lists 8-channel codecs from the ALC861 to the ALC889.
Whereas all the motherboards featured in the roundup so far have offered dual Gigabit LAN controllers, the P67A-GD55 features just a single Realtek RTL8111E controller. It utilizes a PCI Express 1.1 x1 (2.0Gb/s) lane and supports a wide range of features such as Wake-On-LAN, LAN Cable Detection and Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az.
The FireWire support is provided by an old VIA VT6308P controller which is limited to the PCI bus supporting a pair of IEEE1394 ports. Overall, the MSI P67A-GD55 seems quite underwhelming when compared to the competition and it'll be interesting to see how it stacks up.