The MSI P55-GD85 is a premium LGA1156 motherboard, and enthusiasts will no doubt be looking at it as an option for their next system or upgrade, particularly if SATA III and USB 3.0 are on the wish list of items. And make no mistake about it, the GD85 should definitely be on the purchase shortlist.
In terms of layout and design, the GD85 is very good with only a few minor niggles, such as the 8-pin power connector positioned slightly away from the board’s edge, a minor conflict between the 24-pin connector and the V-Check headers, and a lack of fan header located in the lower part of the board. An extremely long graphics card like the Radeon 5970 will pose no component conflicts, but a dual-card setup in Crossfire or SLI will block the OC Genie button, though the Direct OC controls will remain accessible. These are very minor issues though, and are by no means any sort of dealbreaker for the GD85; fact is, this board is extremely capable and impressive.
In terms of performance features, Direct OC is extremely handy and impressive when fine tuning your overclock, and the OC Genie is particularly useful for novice overclockers with its wonderfully simple and quick controls. A 1-second button push is all it takes, and for mainstream users or novice overclockers, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. Unfortunately, OC Genie uses some very conservative presets rather than dynamically-adjusted settings, thus limiting the potential overclock results. The advantage of this, however, is that the P55-GD85 is rock solid. The OC Genie results passed all types of stress tests, and though our manual overclocking results came within a hair of our best we’ve seen to date, leaving us very impressed.
The P55-GD85 is available for approximately $230 USD, about mid-range for LGA1156 motherboards that feature SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0. The closest competitors here for a premium motherboard are the ASUS P7P55D-E Deluxe and Gigabyte P55A-UD6 which are both $20 more expensive. Honestly, we can’t see the justification in spending more when this MSI GD85 is so impressive; while not perfect, it does offer just about everything an enthusiast could want at a much better price.
The MSI P55-GD85 is one of the best all-around LGA1156 motherboards we’ve tested, offering something for everyone. From great performance and sharp aesthetics to power efficiency and ease of use, the GD85 is a solid choice and should be on your purchase shortlist if you’re in the market for a new Nehalem motherboard.
Our thanks go to MSI for providing the P55-GD85 for this review.