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MSI A75MA-G55 (A75) Motherboard Review

MSI send us over an A75 board that stands out from the pack thanks to its mATX format. Let's check it out and see how this smaller offering goes.
Published Wed, Jul 27 2011 1:18 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package


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We've already had a look at a bunch of A75 motherboards and today we look at an offering from MSI known as the MSI A75MA-G55. This board stood out instantly for me thanks to its mATX format, which is something that I've been looking for since we received our first A75 motherboard.

So what's the mATX format mean for the board today? What are we going to be missing out on? Are we losing performance because we move to the smaller platform? Well, let's hope it offers us everything we like about the A75 chipset, just in a smaller package.

Before we get into the performance side of things, first we need to look at what's going on with the package. Once that's done we'll of course be venturing into the motherboard to see how everything looks. We'll then check out the BIOS before we get into the overclocking side of things and find out what kind of performance this mATX board can offer us. First things first; let's look at what's going on with the package.

The Package

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Of course, we've got a bit of a smaller box than our other A75 boards we've looked at because as we said, it's a mATX board we're dealing with instead of the ATX size we've been seeing from other companies. As usual, there's a fair bit of information on offer and the back of the box gives us a good run down of the major features that are present on the motherboard.

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Moving inside the package, we can see we've got some paperwork, driver / utilities CD, two SATA cables, Molex to SATA connector, easy connectors for your front panel and our rear I/O panel.

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The stand out bonus would be the inclusion of the USB 3.0 header that MSI have chosen to include. It's nice to see companies give us the header, offering us a couple of extra ports, especially since they put the headers on the motherboard.

The Motherboard

Moving on to the board, you're not going to see anything too out of the ordinary with that standard black and blue color scheme going on. Of course, the most interesting feature of the board is the mATX format that's on offer which gives us that nice square motherboard.

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Moving in closer to the board, we can see the expansion side of things. Unlike most companies who have chosen to include only 1 PCI-E x16 slot, you can see above that MSI have opted for two. Of course, they're not both x16; instead the first (top) one is x16 while the second is x4.

As for the other two slots, you can see across the bottom we've got an old legacy PCI slot and between our two x16 slots we have a single x1 PCI-E slot. Expansion slot wise, the board is pretty strong considering its small stature. Hopefully the rest of the board continues to surprise.

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Moving to the bottom of the board, we've got our audio header and speaker header. The next bit that stands out is the USB 3.0 header and just above that you can see an onboard speaker. Moving across from the USB 3.0 header, you can see we've got two USB 2.0 headers and two separate front panel headers. At the end you can see our parallel header.

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Turning the corner, there's not heaps to see except for the six white SATA ports. Of course, like our other A75 boards we've looked at these are all SATA III and they all run natively off the A75 chipset.

The Motherboard Continued

Moving away from the bottom of the motherboard and to the top, there's not a lot going on outside of the normal inclusions. You can see we've got four DIMM slots which support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory at speeds ranging from 1066MHz DDR to 1866MHz DDR.

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Below our RAM slots you can see the only other really stand out is of course that typical 24-Pin ATX power connector. Next to that you can see we've also got a four pin fan header.

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Moving around to the CPU area side, there's not heaps that stands out with a fairly basic setup going on. Of course, there's one thing that does stand out and that's the fact that for the CPU power connector, MSI have opted to use only a 4-Pin connector instead of the standard 8-Pin. Hopefully the lack of the extra four pins doesn't affect our overclocking capabilities.

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Finally, we finish up with the I/O side of things and starting from the left you can see our combo PS/2 port and two USB 2.0 ports below that. Moving across, you can see our connectivity options which include HDMI, VGA and DVI-D. Moving across, we've got a further two USB 2.0 ports and Gigabit networking via the Realtek RTL8111E controller. Next to that we've got a further two USB ports, but these are USB 3.0 provided natively via the A75 chipset and finally, we finish up with our 6 audio ports that run off the Realtek ALC887 codec.


Getting into the BIOS side of things, it's a bit funny. While we've got a UEFI BIOS in the sense that we can use the mouse, we haven't got that graphical interface that we've seen on the last few MSI motherboards we've looked at. Because the BIOS' overall look is similar to those older Aptio BIOS setups, you'll no doubt find yourself just using the keyboard to navigate as the mouse tends to be a bit fidgety.

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As far as options go, though, the BIOS is pretty strong and we've got quite a large overclocking section dedicated to the overclocking capabilities of the board. M-Flash also makes updating the BIOS pretty easy by just having the latest BIOS file on a USB drive.

Apart from those areas, you'll find a lot of the BIOS is pretty self-explanatory and all the options that you'd expect to be there are indeed there. Hopefully we're still able to yield a decent overclock when it comes to cranking up the clock speeds on our A8-3850.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

As for the line up here today, we're going to be checking out our MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard against the Sapphire Pure Platinum A75, GIGABYTE A75-UD4H and ASUS M5A99X EVO with the latter most board being based on the 990X chipset using the X6 1100T CPU.

On the overclocking side of things, the MSI A75MA-G55 did a good job achieving a base clock of 120MHz. This combined with the 29x multiplier means that our final CPU speed comes in at 3502.96MHz as you can see below, or 3.5GHz as illustrated in our graphs.

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This isn't a bad overclock and sits in line with some of the other motherboards we've tested. I thought that the lack of 8-Pin connector might limit us a little, but the Llano platform is also a more mainstream platform so it's obviously not going to be as necessary.

Everything is looking pretty good so far with this mATX sized A75 offering. Let's just hope that the good news continues as we get into the benchmarking side of things.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks


Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

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Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Straight away we can see that our little MSI A75MA-G55 motherboard performs just as we'd hope and expect out of the box. You can also see when we overclock that we're able to increase the performance on offer.

CPU Benchmarks Continued

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

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HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Looking at HyperPi performance, we can see that out of the box our A75-GM55 lines up just as we'd hope with our other motherboards. Overclocking our A8-3850 to 3.5GHz yields a nice boost in performance and you see we're able to come in at under 20 minutes for a 32M run.


Version and / or Patch Used: 2.55

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AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.

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We can also see under AutoGK that performance at stock continues to line up with our motherboard. Again we can also see that overclocking yields a nice boost in performance and brings our encode time in line with the 990X / X6 1100T platform from AMD.

Storage Benchmarks


Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage:

Product Homepage:

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at USB 2.0 performance, we can see how strong the GIGABYTE offering is again. The MSI one sits back a little and is slightly behind the Sapphire one which offers us that performance we'd normally expect at around 32MB/s - 34MB/s.

Memory Benchmarks

Sisoft Sandra

Version and / or Patch Used: 2011

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MSI A75MA-G55 (A75) Motherboard Review 37 |

Looking at memory performance, we can see that Llano shows some great memory performance over the X6 platform which is considered higher end. Like our other tests, though, we can see that at stock our performance lines up just as we'd expect and when overclocked we manage to get a bit of a speed bump.


Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage:

Product Homepage:

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at AIDA64, we can again see the strong memory performance on offer. You can also see that when overclocked while we do see a nice boost in read speeds, it's write speeds that see the best gains.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

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Product Homepage:

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3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Under 3DMark 11 we can continue to see a boost in our Performance preset when we overclock our APU due to a bit of a APU limitation that's present when it's running at stock. You can see when we overclock our A8-3850, our P preset performance falls in line with the X6 1100T setup.

As for Aliens vs Predator, due to how intensive the game is, even at 1680 x 1050 there's no CPU limitation, so overclocking yields no performance difference.

Temperature and Power

Core Temperature

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At stock our CPU was running a bit cooler than the other boards, while overclocked show temps only slightly higher than the Sapphire A75 board when running at stock. We haven't put loads of emphasis on the CPU temperature testing due to the fact at the moment we have to rely on motherboard manufacturers own software verses Core Temp which is what we use for our Intel platform testing.

Power Draw Tests

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Power draw doesn't really hold any surprises and we can see that overclocked of course brings a bump in load, but really no change to idle.

Final Thoughts

MSI has put together the kind of board you'd want if you find yourself interested in the Llano platform, but would prefer to see an mATX board instead of the larger ATX boards we've been looking at since launch. The other good news is that MSI continue that same good look that we've seen on their more expensive boards. While a lot of the time you might not see what's going on inside a mATX case, it's none the less nice to know that you've got a good looking motherboard underneath.

From a cons perspective, the only thing that really stood out at me was the BIOS which doesn't use that graphical interface we've seen from MSI in the past on their Z68 motherboards. We've still got a UEFI BIOS on offer; it just doesn't have that friendly entry screen. Apart from that, the BIOS itself is fantastic and gives us an absolute bucket load of options that really helped us achieve some strong performance out of our A8-3650.

As for the price, at $109.99 US it's right on the money and falls in where you'd expect it to. The inclusion of the USB 3.0 header is also a nice bonus as we've seen most companies opt to leave it out. Considering that the A75 chipset natively supports USB 3.0, the addition is nice and means you can make the most out of the technology by having four ports on offer out of the box instead of two.

In the end MSI have been able to put together a really good A75 motherboard that's a fantastic option for people who want an mATX sized board. With plenty of features, a nice bundle and overall strong performance, there's not much more that you could ask for from the A75MA-G55.

If you find yourself entrenched by the new Llano platform from AMD because of the performance it offers and the price point it comes in at, the A75MA-G55 is a great option. Even if you do have room for an ATX sized board, the decision to go mATX can also help save a few dollars, and in our books, that's always a good thing.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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