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MSI P55A Fuzion review

It's Intel's turn to get the cross vendor graphics love with this Fuzion mobo from MSI

Our Verdict

For

  • Excellent performer
  • Lucid tech works
  • Latest SATA/USB tech

Against

  • Some layout issues

We've already taken a look at MSI's mainstream AMD mobo fitted with Lucid's cross-vendor, multi-GPU Hydra chip, the 870A Fuzion. Now it's the turn of the Intel-powered stablemate, the P55A Fuzion, to be in the firing line.

And wouldn't you just know it, it's based on Intel's P55 Express chipset. By pitching the P55A Fuzion at the consumer market, MSI has a motherboard that, thanks to the Hydra technology, offers multi GPU support as well as mix-and-match GPUs in a market segment where users would benefit the most from the ability to put AMD and Nvidia cards together in the same motherboard.

The only genuine alternative to be able to have the option of running either a CrossFire or SLI setup (but not mix and match) is to dig a fair bit deeper into your wallet and go for a high-end multi GPU-supporting board based around Intel's top-end, but ageing, X58 chipset.

Setting up the Lucid's Hydra 200 technology on MSI's P55A Fuzion poses very few problems, if any. Just install both cards, install both sets of drivers and then finally install the Hydra software and reboot.

On board

Even without the Hydra technology, MSI's P55A Fuzion is a hugely impressive board. It's certainly one of the best overall performing boards we have cast our eyes over that's based around Intel's mainstream P55 Express chipset.

Both the P55 and the Lucid Hydra chipset are passively cooled by modest looking heatsinks; they look almost inadequate after the spate of huge copper coolers we've seen on motherboards recently.

It may be a mainstream board, but that hasn't stopped MSI packing it full of goodies normally found on a high-end board; top quality components in the power circuitry, OC Genie – MSI's automatic overclocking technology, lossless 24-bit audio and a BIOS chip full of overclocking features. Needless to say, you also get SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0.

Once again, MSI has split the two USB 3 ports, one is on the back I/O connector group as normal, while the other sits inboard just behind the audio connecting stack on the rear I/O.

One thing to take care with, though, is the 8-pin 12V power connector, because a capacitor sits very close to the connector on the board. It's mighty close for comfort.

Apart from that, it's a well laid-out board with plenty of room around its components. In particular, there's plenty of space between the two PCI-E x16 slots so you can fit a couple of cards with those large, non-standard coolers in without compromising the airflow going to them.

MSI's P55A Fuzion is a well thought-out motherboard that also happens to be one of the best performing P55 Express boards around. Add to that the Hydra technology and a very good list of features for the price point, and it becomes a very interesting option indeed.

Full marks to MSI then for pitching the idea of multi-vendor, multi-GPU support at an audience where it possibly makes more sense, and then adding it to a board that's already very good in its own right.

It also seems that Lucid's Hydra technology works a little better with an Intel chipset than AMD.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelP55 Express
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX
Onboard VideoNo
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots2
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H LGA-1156
Brand NameMSI
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedCore i5, Core i7, Core i3, Pentium
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory16 GB
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots2
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
QuickPath Interconnect6.40 GT/s
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots6
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports7
Number of USB 3.0 Ports1
Total Number of FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports2
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports4
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
Total Number of PCI Express Slots4
Processor TechnologyEnhanced SpeedStep Technology
Width305 mm
Depth243 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product ModelP55A
Product NameP55A Fuzion Desktop Motherboard
Product LineFuzion
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberP55A-FUZION
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.msicomputer.com
Marketing Information

Powered by MSI Fuzion Technology, MSI Fuzion Series MBs offer Non-Identical & Cross-Vendor Multi-GPU Processing; which allows users to install any 2 different level and brand graphics cards in a single system. The technology can perform scalable rendering to deliver near-linear gaming performance by load-balancing graphics processing tasks.

Limited Warranty3 Year