MSI IS GETTING ready to unleash two new motherboards with Lucid’s Hydra chip, but unlike the Big Bang Fuzion, the two new models should turn out to be a bit more wallet friendly. First up we have the P55A Fuzion which is the Big Bang Fuzion‘s little brother so to say, as this board is also based on the Intel P55 chipset. The second board, the 870A Fuzion is based on AMD 870 chipset and is MSI’s first AMD board to feature Lucid’s Hydra.
We spotted the P55A Fuzion just ahead of Computex, although we didn’t get a clear view of the board at the time due to it being populated by various graphics cards, a large CPU cooler and what not. Now we have pictures of the board in its full glory and sadly it doesn’t seem to have many surprises on offer. The layout doesn’t appear to have changed which means that MSI went ahead with a single USB 3.0 port around the back, while the other one is standing straight up on the board itself, just behind the audio connector block.
The overall layout of the board isn’t anything out of the ordinary with the only possible exception being the 6-pin power connector near the top x16 PCI Express slot. This will most likely provide extra power to the x16 PCI Express slot for power hungry graphics cards. The board also houses a pair of x1 PCI Express slots and two PCI slots. You’ll also find a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports in addition to the six SATA 3Gbps ports. MSI has also thrown in FireWire support and the board also has an OC Genie button and a pair of touch sensitive power and reset buttons.
What’s far more exciting is the AMD 870 based 870A Fuzion board as the pictures we’ve dug up are of a brand new revision. Most boards hit retail at revision 1.0 or possibly 1.1, but the 870A Fuzion is already up in revision 2.01 which is an indication of some major changes with this board. We did a little bit of digging and came up with pictures of revision 0A (which is MSI’s pre-release revision numbering) and a revision 1.0 board, neither of which look anything like the revision 2.01 board.
Somewhere along the line it seems like MSI made some changes to the philosophy behind this board and as such many of the features seen on earlier revisions are no longer present. The most obvious change is in the power regulation where we’re seeing a drop from 10 chokes to a mere five, suggestion that the power regulation circuit has not only been vastly modified, but also cut in half. Gone also is one of the x1 PCI Express slots, leaving only a pair of x1 PCI Express slots, two x16 PCI Express slots and a single PCI slot. That’s a total of only five usable slots on a full size ATX board, a bit on the stingy side.
MSI has also dropped the SB850 in favour for the older and cheaper SB710. One of the consequences from this move is the lack of native SATA 6Gbps support and instead MSI has added a Marvell controller that adds a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports in addition to the six SATA 3Gbps ports. Just as with the P55A Fuzion, the 870A Fuzion only has one rear USB 3.0 port with the second being located behind the audio connector block. This board also has the 6-pin power connector next to the top most x16 PCI Express slot. The rear port layout of the two boards is identical, which means that the 870A Fuzion also sports FireWire support.
Neither board is particularly exciting in terms of hardware features and the only real selling point for either board is the Lucid Hydra chip. The question you have to ask before buying either board is if Lucid’s Hydra is the way forward for multi GPU systems or not. As much as we want to like Lucid’s Hydra, it has yet to prove itself as a winning solution compared to Nvidia’s SLI and AMD’s CrossFireX in terms of performance advantages. Sure, it gives you the option to mix and match graphics cards, but not always with any real performance advantage. However, if Lucid sorts out its software, then maybe these boards will prove to be quite popular, although we’d expect MSI to have to price them rather keenly judging by the sparse feature set on both models.S|A
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