MSI X79A-GD45 Plus In The Box

A $250 package in the Z87 arena would/should be numerate in its extras and offer the user something extra.  In the X79 space, $250 is rather low on the radar – not the lowest, but there are motherboards that cost over $500 that go all out on the feature set.  There is scope for MSI to do something good here.

With the X79A-GD45 Plus we get:

Rear IO Panel
Driver DVD
Manuals
Six SATA Cables
Flexi SLI Bridge

Along the line of few additional controllers on board, the MSI package also lacks any significant additions.  Having a full complement of SATA cables is probably a good thing, although having a second SLI cable for multi-GPU allocations might help, given X79 is the focus for >2 GPU setups.

MSI X79A-GD45 Plus Overclocking

Experience with MSI X79A-GD45 Plus

To begin with, all was not well with the X79A-GD45 Plus.  The OC Genie button does not seem to do anything from default.  The motherboard, when XMP is applied, gives MultiCore Turbo (top turbo when all cores are loaded), and it seems OC Genie does the same thing when XMP is not applied.  I expected at least a 4.2 GHz jump here when I tested.

For manual overclocking, our main limiting factor here is more our Ivy Bridge-E CPU sample than anything else.  Like the other Ivy Bridge-E refresh motherboards we have reviewed, our limit was around 4.4 – 4.5 GHz, the main issue being OCCT stability before the temperature of the CPU rose above suitable levels.

Methodology:

Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows.  We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with PovRay and OCCT to simulate high-end workloads.  These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.

For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from previous testing, starts off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed.  The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed, and the process repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (100ºC+).  Our test bed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air. 

Manual Overclock:

Our overclock results were as follows:

BIOS and Software 2014 Test Setup, Power Consumption, POST Time
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  • hulu - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    In Board Features > Memory Slots, says "Up to Dual Channel". Shouldn't it be quad channel? Reply
  • dgingeri - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Well, it could be useful for a high level home server with that many slots. Put a low end video card in the top, raid controller in the second, quad port 1Gb NICs in the 4th and 5th, and have the last slot available for a 10Gb card if needed. Wouldn't even need a switch to go with it. All in one, storage, network, routing, high end network. It has possibilities. Reply
  • Rick83 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    But most of that you can do with 1155, and for that price you can get a board with ECC support to boot, won't need any GPU at all (unless you get a Xeon that has the GPU disabled), and still have plenty room to grow. 1155 has plenty of PCIe bandwidth, as long as most of your load is from two expansion slots. Hooking up RAID and networking directly to the CPU means that you will have two or three expansion cards that may eventually be bandwidth restrained, but even then opting for a board with a PCIe MUX would be in the same league, price-wise as this, and have plenty of bandwidth for up to four cards - and most non-GPU cards aren't really PCIe restricted. Quad GbE is one lane PCIe3, 10GbE is 2-4 lanes, 8x 6Gb SAS with software RAID over SSDs is going to need 8x PCIeV3, but realistically 4x is going to be enough, if you use hardware RAID or spinning platters.

    No, the only reason for this board, is if you want a cheap rendering machine. 6-8 cores and 64GB of RAM on a 250 dollar board is pretty nice. If you want gaming, you'll probably be looking at boards higher up the foodchain, as the GPUs alone will come in at around 2-3k dollars, and another 100 on the board won't really matter, if you get better sound and other nifty features.
    GPU computer might be another use case, but then that's even rarer than rendering boxes, from what I've seen so far. Might be a nice little GPU compute dev workstation.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    There really isn't any need for this as a home server. It's total overkill. Even a Core 2 Quad can transcode multiple 1080p streams while serving files, routing and doing all the other common home server tasks. Home servers don't really need much power, most homes don't have more than 4-6 users. Reply
  • dgingeri - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    For total I/O and a poor man's 10Gbe switch, socket 2011 or 1366 can't be beat. That's what I mostly use my home servers for. Socket 775, 1155, or 1150 systems simply can't provide the I/O to run a software switch that includes 10Gbe.

    Yeah, sure, 10Gbe is hardly worth the expense in a home server. However, with a raid controller and quad drive set capable of pushing 400MB/s, it can be useful for video editing over a network drive, or a few other things.

    I do it as an experiment on future uses and self training. Right now, I have three servers interconnected with 10Gb over such a poor man's 10Gbe switch running a total of 14 VMs over 3 domains with 6 domain controllers, 3 WDS servers, and some 'workstations', just to prove I could do it before I propose doing the same thing with the DNS servers in my lab. (We currently have 4 domains across 17 departments, with 3 of those 4 running Linux DNS servers that don't talk to each other. It's really annoying working on machines that cross those domains. So, I had to come up with a plan to fix it with Windows DNS and AD, and eventually migrate down to one domain. In addition, I was to come up with a way to manage user accounts through Windows AD for a single centralized vCenter server to manage our test VM hosts. I wasn't sure I could do it until I spent a weekend building all these VMs.) All of those VMs are running on iSCSI storage over 10Gbe from the storage server. I did all this with two Dell T110 II servers, one for storage and one for routing/switch, and a piecemeal FX-6100 VM host and 4 Intel CX4 10Gbe NICs.

    In essence, I was just dreaming about a more capable central server for my experiments when I posted that previous comment. I could switch the storage and switch duties to a system with this board and use the Dells as further VM hosts. Maybe I'm just spoiled with all this hardware at work.
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Copy/Paste error from my spec tables which I hand code to make it easier :) Should be fixed.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Bal - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Ok I am not one to criticize articles, but this reads REALLY poorly. I mean I am the guy who misspells every other word and uses slang, misses apostrophes etc. So I forgive everything as long as its readable. But I could not get past the first page of this review.

    The writer misuses "are" and "is" so often I have to reread every other sentence. He completely misses using the word "the" and it also makes you reread each sentence. Read the first two paragraphs and someone tell me I am wrong? Am I just grumpy, hungover or what?
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Hahaha, you must be new to Ian. He's rather infamous for his "style."

    It would seem that eloquence is not as valued as passion when it comes to the tech journalism industry, even for Anandtech. Refer to the 14 AIO coolers article and its comments section to see an excellent example of what I mean. There I had a little exchange with the author and boy, it’s not pretty.

    Although one could say that one doesn’t read a motherboard review, or any other tech article, to brush up on one’s English grammar or writing skills, but rather just to look at some pretty pictures, learn the price/specs, and read the conclusion, it’s somewhat of a weak cop-out as one would also expect AnandTech to strive for higher standards. Reading is reading and a poorly written article is a poorly written article, regardless of topic. Other sites aren’t much better though. And to their defense, there are some decent writers, in terms of pure writing, here at AnandTech, not least of which is Anand himself. And who knows? I might even answer AnandTech’s Call for Writers one of these days. So fret not, all hope is not lost.

    - The PC Apologist
    Reply
  • thesavvymage - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    I would absolutely loathe you writing for this site. I'm sure the other writers would hate you writing with them as well, pretty much every time I see you in the comments it is because you are complaining of the competence of the english and grammar of the article. Reply
  • BlakKW - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    +1 Reply

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