The MSI X79A-GD65(8D) is priced in-between the Intel DX79SI and ECS X79R-AX at $300 and for that price offers an interesting array of features. MSI has included all eight DIMM slots for a maximum memory configuration of 64GBs. Using the platform's quad-channel memory architecture, memory frequencies of 1866/1600/1333/1066MHz are supported, while 2400 and 2133MHz are possible through overclocking.
Support for multi-GPU includes Nvidia 3-way SLI and AMD 4-way CrossfireX. There are a total of three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots. Two of the three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots feature the full x16 bandwidth, while the other is limited to x8. The PCIe 2.0 x16 slots are both physically wired for x8 bandwidth though MSI states that they are each limited to just x1 bandwidth.
MSI has improved the board's storage capabilities by expanding on the X79 chipset's two 6Gb/s SATA and four 3Gb/s SATA ports. The ASmedia ASM1061 controller provides two additional 6GB/s SATA ports which are color coded white. There are no eSATA ports on the X79A-GD65(8D), so users are limited to the eight ports on-board.
Network support is also rather limited with a single wired Gigabit Ethernet port, and no wireless. Gigabit LAN support is delivered using the Intel 82579 controller which is 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) rated.
Once again, audio is taken care of by the Realtek ALC892 8-Channel High Definition codec which is the same solution used by ECS and Intel. The board also adopts the VIA VT6315N controller for a pair of Firewire (IEEE1394a) ports, one of which can be found on the board's I/O panel.
The board design saw MSI implement a 10 + 4 power phase design which is a far cry from the 16 + 4 design used by Asus. Thankfully unlike Intel we found that MSI has used an UEFI BIOS which is well laid out and easy to navigate.
Like the Intel DX79SI we feel that the MSI X79A-GD65(8D) is a rather simple X79 motherboard. The slightly more expensive Asrock X79 Extreme9 offers more features, but that is not to say MSI's board isn't worth a look.