Articles: Mainboards

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Design and Functionality

MSI is not a new player on the mainboard market. It is in fact one of the major manufacturers. So it’s not surprising that the FM2-A85XA-G65 is designed in a neat and clever way and even looks attractive.

MSI is especially proud of the high-quality Military Class III components it employs on its mainboards. Tantalum capacitors and Super Ferrite Chokes are used in the voltage regulator whereas the ordinary solid-state capacitors feature improved service life. These high-quality components are faster and more stable than regular ones, have better specifications, consume less power and generate less heat. The hottest elements of the voltage regulator are covered on the MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 with two heatsinks which are secured with screws and connected to each other with a heat pipe. The intricate cooling solution is an indication of the mainboard’s relatively high status rather than a necessity because the heatsinks don’t get hot even at high loads. The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 is compatible with all modern Socket FM2 processors and will be able to support 64 gigabytes of system memory as soon as appropriate modules come out. It is no different from the three models we tested previously in this respect but overall the MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 is simpler, and not always in a bad way.

For example, the other mainboards have three graphics slots PCI Express 2.0 x16 which use the same operating formula: 1x16, 2x8 or x8/x8/x4. The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 has only two (1x16 or 2x8) but that’s hardly a downside. Socket FM2 processors are interesting for their rather advanced integrated graphics core, so if you are going to combine two or three standalone graphics cards in your computer, you may want to choose a different platform to start with. The other three mainboards have an additional USB 3.0 controller to add two more USB 3.0 ports on the back panel but the MSI goes along without it, limiting itself to the four ports provided by the AMD A85X chipset. We guess it’s quite enough to have two USB 3.0 ports at the back and two more at the front of your computer. And finally, the other three mainboards have seven onboard SATA 6 Gbit/s ports plus a back-panel eSATA connector whereas the MSI offers all of them as eight internal connectors. The lack of eSATA may be viewed as a downside, but not of the particular mainboard model. It seems to be a deliberate solution on the manufacturer’s part. None of the MSI mainboards we’ve tested recently had eSATA ports even though they might have additional SATA controllers. The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 also lacks a COM port which is available with each of the other three models, but most computer users today wouldn’t even know what it is or would have no use for it anyway.

Here’s the selection of the mainboard’s back-panel connectors:

  • PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse;
  • Four USB 2.0 ports, six more USB ports are available as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built on Gigabit Realtek RTL8111E controller);
  • D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort Video outs;
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) and one internal connector for two additional USB 3.0 ports  implemented via AMD A85X chipset;
  • Optical S/PDIF, and six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC892 codec.

There are highlighted Power, Reset and OC Genie buttons in the top right corner of the mainboard. The OC Genie can help you overclock your computer automatically. Besides them, there is a Clear CMOS button at the bottom. The V-Check Points panel you can see near the 24-pin power connector can be used together with the bundled V-Check cables to easily monitor voltages with a voltmeter. The mainboard offers five fan connectors, three of which are of the 4-pin variety.

The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 mainboard can also be referred to as MS-7793 ver. 1.1 but the MSI website only offers a description for version 1.0. None of the mainboard makers has yet come up with a handy comparison system that would allow to quickly find out the differences between two models, let alone between two revisions of the same mainboard model, but here the revisions are almost identical. The only difference is that the USB 3.0 header is at the bottom of the version 1.0 model and in between the PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots on the version 1.1 model.

Version 1.0
Version 1.1

For your convenience we summed up all the technical specifications of MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 mainboard in the following table:


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