ConclusionThe MSI 890FXA-GD65 is a very focused and refined board, and it comes with a very impressive price. Initially it was introduced at $149.99, but that has since dropped to $129.99 online. We also see MSI currently (as of this article) offering a $15 rebate, bringing the price of this board to $114.99. This is a smoking deal right now. A full 890FX based board with very good overclocking potential, plus a massive amount of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports hanging off the back. This board at $115 is almost too hard to pass up right now.
The 890FXA-G65 installed in a pretty standard (and realistically dusty) ATX case. It is not oversized, and most parts are pretty easy to get to. Note the large space between the DIMMS and the video card. Usually people curse how close those two components are placed to each other.
The board seems built like a tank. Even though the northbridge cooling could be better, and a couple of slot placement decisions were somewhat flawed, all of these things can be worked around. The Military Class II components will essentially allow the board to last far longer than any other component in a computer, unless a power supply goes down in dramatic fashion and takes everything else with it.
It has all the components necessary to get a system up and running with a minimum of fuss. Those who have a Firewire based peripheral may want to look elsewhere, but the board also has plenty of expansion capabilities to handle a standalone Firewire card if one so desired. The sound codec is perfectly fine for most applications, and seems to work without issue in the vast majority of games out there. The networking performance of the Realtek chip is also more than adequate for desktop use.
It really is hard to find things wrong with this board. As long as the user makes sure the BIOS is updated to the latest, then problems should be few and far between. In the time I have had this board, the only time it has crashed was after I exceeded 325 MHz on the HTT. Otherwise, it has worked without issue.
Ah yes. We just had to bring up that point. Any reasonably (or unreasonably) large video card will occlude the SATA connections on this board. Have fun cramping fingers in getting that extra cable installed.
The last point I would like to mention is that in a future BIOS release we will see AM3+ processor support. This means that the board can be used with a Bulldozer based product from AMD, when they become available this summer. Apparently the AM3 socket has 941 available pin holes, while the AM3 chip features 938 pins. AM3+ sockets have 942 pins, but the processors look to have around 939 to 940 pins. So physically the chips can fit into, and run effectively, in the older AM3 boards with the BIOS updates. Now as to all of the features that a Bulldozer will bring to the table in terms of the new turbo mode or power saving routines, we do not know if they will be fully supported by current AM3 boards. There is a definite reason why AMD chose to create AM3+ and its resultant feature set.
MSI has created a fine board. It certainly appears to have had a real teething process, but now the BIOS support has caught up and we are seeing a very fast and mature product on the marketplace. The current price makes this one of the more exciting AM3 motherboard out there, especially for the budget enthusiast. MSI has scored nicely with the 890FXA-GD65.
MSI 890FXA-GD65 Silver Award Winner
Excellent value, performance, and feature-set.