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For the gaming tests, higher resolutions tax the videocard, but lower resolutions rely on the CPU and subsystem speed. Higher scores are better. We used the built in Far Cry 2 benchmark tool and the for ETQW.
The game settings were 640x480, 4:3 aspect ratio and low quality.
Far Cry 2
We ran the benchmark 3 times and used the average score. The settings were 640x480, DX10, Performance low, and Render high.
Overall, MSI has produced a very nice product with the . It was stable, very fast and with the 1.32 BIOS, a very good overclocker. The results compared to its Intel counterpart were close, though it did trail slightly across the board at stock speeds. Where MSI realy comes out ahead though is the included extras such as quality audio and excellent system management hardware and software tools.
For expansion and future growth, there is little to be desired. There are plenty of storage options, as well as more than enough cabling to allow a user to add on devices without having to purchase more cables. With CrossFire and SLI support, you're set here as well if gaming is your sole intention.
The board almost fell flat when we started the overclocking. The initial test BIOS was near useless in this regard, but improved greatly with the latest BIOS. We've been running this new BIOS for a couple weeks and have not had any stability issues since installing it. The only issues we've had actually is the mic port causing system crashes in Call of Duty 4. There are some software workarounds if you do not use a mic, but for whatever reason, these did not work with the X-Fi. Plugging in a mic resolved the issues, but given that other than another discreet audio card, there is no onboard option for you to choose from should you not be a fan of creative.
The Intel board was faster in benchmarks, but in real-world use, you'd be hard pressed to notice anything. That aside, the expansion options, solid design and extras that are actually useful puts a smile on our faces. It isn't cheap though, but if you're already spending the cash on triple memory and a new i7, the deserves a look.