|MSI A75MA-G55 AMD FM1 Llano Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Sunday, 11 September 2011|
Page 17 of 17
MSI A75MA-G55 Motherboard Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
MSI has been around the motherboard manufacturing community for a long time now and they have set a standard for high quality products. The MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard falls right in line with that vision. The Military Class concept has evolved for MSI and they have continued improving the quality of their components. They are well into the second generation of that concept and the Military Class II components add longevity and durability to their products. The A75MA-G55 motherboard upheld our expectations and provided all of the features considered necessary for computing today as well as many that extras.
New Processing designs like the APU and the A75 chipset take away some of the choices for motherboard manufacturers in terms of on-board features like GPU and even third-party controllers for USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s. At the same time, the costs saved by the integration of these components onto the chipset allow for further innovation by manufacturers as to what they will include on their finished products. The inclusion of higher quality components is one of those options. As far as the APU performance is concerned, the A75 chipset looks like it is going to be a big competitor for lower-end Sandy Bridge platforms. The A8-3850 APU keeps right up in there with the similarly priced i3-2100. At the same time, the integrated GPU on the A8-3850, the Radon HD 6650D, outperforms the 2nd Generation Intel HD graphics by a long shot. In fact, it graphically outperforms the much more expensive i5-2500K processor. For entry-level systems, this chipset is a force to be reckoned with.
Where appearance is concerned, it looks like MSI tried to stick with their major feature set, the Military Class II components and build off of that. The blue and black theme is complemented by metallic gray throughout the board, giving the appearance of a high-tech, high quality machine. There is a little flare on the MOSFET heatsink, but only a little. The other components appear to be very functionally formed. This is consistent with the Military Class theme. Like the ASUS A75 motherboard I reviewed previously, the MOSFET heatsink itself looks like it's probably mostly cosmetic, as the PWM isn't covered. It's not as though the PWM is going to generate a whole lot of heat powering the Lynx APU anyway.
There is a lot to be said for the construction quality of the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard. The fact that they advertise their Military Class II components over anything else on the box pays tribute to that fact. They start off their Military Class II components with Highly-conductive polymerized capacitors that tout a tantalum core. Tantalum is a very hard metal that is corrosive resistant and tends to form a protective oxide surface layer. Since this oxide layer is very thin and can be used as a dielectric, tantalum capacitors can achieve a high level of capacitance in a very small volume. Tantalum cores are predicted to have a life-span about 8x longer than traditional solid capacitors. Up next is the Supper Ferrite Chokes. You have undoubtedly seen ferrite chokes on the ends of your USB or other cables. They are the big, round bump before the tip of the cable. Ferrite doesn't dissipate the energy running through it; it simply filters out high-frequency interference. This makes it great for power management, as it runs very cool. Finally, MSI uses Solid Capacitors. These are quickly becoming the industry standard and have a life-span of over 10 years. You can still find some motherboards made without all Solid Caps, but they are becoming rarer. As one final note on the construction of the A75MA-G55 motherboard, I found it difficult to locate and use the front panel headers for the power and reset switches and LEDs without using the manual. Sometimes they are labeled on the motherboard. On the A75MA-G55 they are not.
MSI really put in the effort to provide extra functionality with the A75MA-G55 motherboard. Some of that effort paid off, and some of it didn't. Mainly, when I say some didn't, I'm talking about the ClickBIOS. Rather than use a uEFI, MSI went with a traditional BIOS with some upgraded features. For one, it supports 3TB and larger drives. For another, it supports a mouse. The mouse support is spotty, however, and may be looked at in future BIOS upgrades. Those should be easy enough with the M-Flash functionality, allowing you to flash from a USB drive. Additionally functionality comes in the many programs included on the utilities disc. The i-Charger program helps to improve mobile device charging times. The OC Genie II helps you to overclock the A75MA-G55 to its full potential and it can do so automatically. It even auto sets the voltage, which is rare in an overclocking program. Another overclocking utility, MSI Afterburner, is designed to overclock your GPU. Finally, Winki 3 is a fantastic addition that comes with the MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard. Winki 3 is a fully functional linux-web-based OS that comes ready to go with OpenOffice.org and Skype, as well as IM and web-browsing features.
As of September 7th 2011, the MSI A75MA-G55 would cost you $99.99 at Newegg. That sits right about middle-of-the-road for an A75 motherboard. That being said, in my opinion, the features of the MSI A75MA-G55 are not middle-of-the-road. Starting right from the front you get their Military Class II components in addition to a slew of software items that enhance the functionality of the motherboard. Winki 3 by itself could potentially save you a couple hundred dollars off a whole system. There are two PCIe slots where the lower-end competitors have only one. Also, MSI gives you a USB 3.0 expansion port in the box. You won't generally find MSI at the bottom of the price scale, but their components make a difference and the additional features bring a lot to the table. In this case, I have to give good marks to MSI for the value of the A75MA-G55 motherboard.
+ Winki 3 Linux-based OS Included
+ i-Charger USB Charging Increase
+ Military Class II Components
+ OC Genie II Overclocking Software
+ USB 3.0 Expansion Port Included
+ Good Value
- ClickBIOS - Bad Mouse Integration
- Legacy PS/2 Ports Takes Up Space
- Second PCIe x16 slot runs at x4
Final Score: 9.20 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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