|MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Sunday, 11 September 2011|
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Closer Look: MSI A75MA-G55
The box that houses the MSI A75MA-G55 Motherboard is bright and catchy. Since one of the major features of a lot MSI motherboards in the Military Class II components, the box mimics a polished steel machine and touts the features all over the front. Just from looking at the box, you will know exactly how great these Military Class features are. There is even an additional stamp letting you know that it's certified to a Military Standard. I have to admit that this is always interesting to me. I was in the military for a long time. In fact, I just got out last November. While most of the weapons and some of the equipment is held to a higher standard than the same equipment available to civilians, a lot of it is the same stuff you can get anywhere else, especially the computer equipment. Anyway, what's surprising is that, while touting all the Military Class components, there is no mention that the A75MA-G55 Motherboard uses a socket FM1 APU or that it's designed for the Lynx chipset. It does say AMD Vision at the top and the A75 should clue you in, but other than that, all it says is AMD Recommended. All I can say is: please don't try to use an Intel chip in this board.
The back of the box lays out all of the features again, but in a little more detail. These details include the benefits of USB3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s. We also get a little blurb here about one of the most exciting features (for me) of the MSI A75MA-G55 Motherboard; the inclusion of Winki 3. Winki 3 is a full, linux based operating system that is somewhat similar to Google Chrome OS. It basically gives you web-based functionality. You can do almost everything from the web these days, so Winki 3 is pretty useful if you think forking over an extra $100 for an operating system is highway robbery. It won't support any of your programs, but you'll be able to catch up on past articles from BenchmarkReviews.com!
Inside the box of the A75MA-G55 Motherboard is bunch of accessories. The manuals, driver and utilities CD, I/O shield and SATA cables are pretty standard. There is also a molex to SATA power adapter, which is nice if you have a power supply that is a little on the old side. The most interesting part of the accessories, and a very welcome inclusion, is a USB 3.0 expansion port that fits the PCI slots on the back of your case. So many motherboards now include USB 3.0 headers mid-board. The problem is, not a lot of cases have USB 3.0 ports available yet. That makes the header basically useless unless you buy an expansion port. I have the same problem with the fact that a lot of motherboards include roughly 4 USB 2.0 headers, but cases only come with 2 ports, taking up just a single header. Anyway, I'm glad that MSI included the USB 3.0 expansion port here. There are a lot of devices now that take advantage of the faster speeds and with the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard, you can take advantage of more than just 2 of them.
The MSI A75MA-G55 is a good looking motherboard. The PCB is black and the dark blue, black, and silver color scheme blend smoothly with the Military Class theme. There are only a couple of heatsinks on the motherboard, but they serve their function. The small square one at the top of the board covers the Fusion Controller Hub and the longer one near the APU socket covers, at least partially, the MOSFETs. It says Military Class II on it, which is great because it's shielding some of those military grade capacitors. Speaking of the MOSFETs, it looks to me like the MSI A75MA-G55 is using a 4+2 or maybe even a 4+4 phase PWM. The heatsink is riveted into place, and I'd have to take it off to be sure. Either way, it doesn't give a lot of room for extra power movement, which may not bode well for overvolting. However, the AMD Llano APUs don't use a whole lot of power. That combined with the fact that there is a MOSFET heatsink might allow for some headroom in terms of voltage. Of course, the chokes aren't covered by the heatsink.
Let's finish up our closer look at the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard with the I/O panel. Then we can get into a more detailed look at the components on the motherboard. The I/O panel is pretty standard for an A75 motherboard. Again, the first thing on there is a legacy PS/2 port. If you read my review of the ASUS A75 motherboard a few weeks back, you know how I feel about that. Remember, of course, that this is my personal opinion. I don't think PS/2 ports are necessary anymore. You may still have legacy equipment. In that case, a PS/2 port would be necessary for you. Well, I would say that an upgrade of keyboard and/or mouse would be necessary for you. Either way, this motherboard only has one port, so one of those peripherals is going to have to be USB.
Under the PS/2 port there are two USB 2.0 ports. Next to that is an HDMI port followed by a D-Sub port on top of a DVI port. Now, I have the same complaint about VGA ports, considering they pass an analog signal, but I have reconsidered. The reason for this is that I use two monitors. Because the DVI port and the HDMI port use the same single, you can't use them both at the same time. Thus, the addition of the analog, VGA port is necessary for those of us that would like to use two monitors with the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard. Following the video ports is a GbE port powered by the Realtek RTL8111E controller. This sits above another two USB 2.0 ports and beside the two, blue USB 3.0 ports. The I/O panel is rounded out by the six audio jacks powered by the Realtek ALC887 Audio Codec, which supports your 7.1 digital audio. Even though these motherboards are relatively inexpensive, I am glad to see that both ASUS and MSI have included the full six audio ports on their A75 motherboards.
Before I forget, I want to mention that the BIOS on the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard is your standard, run-of-the-mill BIOS with a single difference. This BIOS has added mouse support. Well, it has 3TB drive support too, but most do now with a flash anyway. Why MSI didn't use a uEFI instead of a BIOS is anybody's guess, but all I have to say is the mouse support is spotty at best and I ended up just using the keyboard to navigate my way through it.