MSI 870A Fuzion - Fuzion for the Masses
MSI brings Lucid's multi-GPU technology back to the AMD platform with the mainstream 870A Fuzion. Once again, you can enjoy NVIDIA SLI with an AMD processor. Plus this time, you can even consider an ATI and NVIDIA mixed-mode solution. We find out whether Lucid's Hydra Engine is ready for the masses.
Very good board layout Strong set of features
Premium cost for the Fuzion technology Performance was mediocre
MSI 870A Fuzion - Fuzion for the Masses
- Very good board layout , Strong set of features
- Premium cost for the Fuzion technology , Performance was mediocre
- Performance:: 7.5
- Features:: 9
- Value:: 7
ConclusionWith the MSI 870A Fuzion and the P55-based Intel alternative, the company is giving another shot at getting Lucid's Hydra Engine chip off the ground. Dubbed 'Fuzion' by MSI, this technology remains in its infancy, and even with the newer drivers that we tested the 870A Fuzion with, it's not without issues. At its best, like in 3DMark Vantage, we can see it competing with the proprietary multi-GPU technologies from ATI and NVIDIA. But at the same time, we also saw its flaws, with mediocre performance scaling in Far Cry 2, along with its main weakness - newer graphics cards will always be supported slower, due to the time lag between their debuts and Lucid's updating its drivers. There's however potential in this technology and the mainstream segment that MSI has thrown it into may well be its defining moment. The AMD platform has lacked support for SLI since NVIDIA stopped its chipset development, so the 870A Fuzion definitely has a rather unique selling point here. Mainstream users unfortunately are less likely to be dabbling in multi-GPU setups, which doesn't bode well for it. It's possible that users will outfit this board with one graphics card first, and eventually add another when they could afford it, or when they find their graphics horsepower lacking. In any case, to attract the mainstream user, the right price is needed. At US$140, the 870A Fuzion is in danger of pricing itself out of the market. MSI's other Fuzion-less AMD 870 variant costs about US$100 with very similar features (and with a newer Southbridge), which roughly puts the Fuzion premium at around US$40. While MSI has expressed its hope that users won't mind paying for Fuzion if the price is mainstream, we still think that the slight premium will limit the adoption. More so when similar AMD 870 boards from competitors, go for just US$90.
MSI 870A Fuzion (AMD 770) Motherboard
Conclusion Although we have not covered the Fuzion aspect of the 870A Fuzion yet, we now have a very good idea of how this motherboard performs at a very basic level. The strengths and weaknesses are visible. We know that HDD performance is a little behind the current SB850 and that stock memory performance is right behind the current 890FX. With this information in mind, we can now move forward and look at what Fuzion brings to the table. For now we can say that even if Fuzion adds very little, you are getting a very solid platform. The gaming performance was solid, while workstation and productivity performance was also very solid. If you are looking for a low cost motherboard (the 870A Fuzion is only $139.99 at NewEgg.com ) to build an AMD based gaming rig or to do some productivity work, then this certainly would be one to watch and that is without even checking out the Fuzion functionality. As soon as we have tested this part of the board we will be certain to get that information out to you. Until now we can say that this is already one capable product.
No gradeMSI 870A Fuzion Power Edition EXCLUSIVE Review
Then we have the Lucid Hydra module. Not only can the board operate dual 16x lane PCI-Express modes, we were able to successfully operate 3DMark Vantage with ATi and nVidia graphics cards functioning together, with promising gains. Also one must remember that this is new hardware and there is every possibility that we can see further performance enhancements with a driver update.
The insanity doesn't end just yet as we haven't even discussed price yet. MSI have informed us that the 870A Power Edition will be priced in the region of £120; this is just £20 more than the inferior vanilla edition. At this price point, it sits alongside the cheaper 890FX motherboards, such as the Biostar TA890FXE, ASRock 890FX Extreme and Asus M4A89TD PRO. Yet in terms of its feature set and the performance it has offered us today, we would place this board squarely as an Asus Crosshair IV series competitor, which is priced at £170 upwards.
This means two things. The MSI 870A Fuzion Power Edition is able to offer class leading performance but also at a price that is more in line with midrange choices. It is rare that this tends to happen and with this in mind, we are proud to issue the board the OC3D Gold
Well done MSI.
No gradeMSI 870A Fuzion X-Mode Testing w/ R5870 Lightning & N465GTX Twin Frozr
Conclusion When I first read about Hydra I was of a mixed mind. I thought that if they could get things working the way they wanted, it would be the death of the proprietary dual GPU setups. I also knew that getting it to work would be a very large task. It is one thing to say you can match up identical GPUs using a bridge chip; it is another to say you can do this with competing technologies and make it work. We saw some of this evident in our X-Mode testing. The Synthetics we tested seemed to have some staggering performance leaps (as much as 45%). These are great. but once again only half of the game. It is also much easier to program for these tests as they are static in nature. To program for different games and game engines is a much more complex task. We have a feeling that it is this part of the Fuzion/Hydra equation that may never have a proper solution, at least not for X-Mode. We do hope that MSI and Lucid can come up with one, because it has great potential; we just think that it might take too long to be viable in the market. So we have to say that X-Mode is not something we would recommend at this stage. We are still going to see what we get from N and A modes in the very near future, but for now we can honestly say that X-Mode is not worth the cost of the extra GPUs. Even if the two different GPUs are in the $100-150 range, the extra performance is not worth the cost.