MSI looks to add executive chic to a winning laptop formula
- Inexpensive, 2 x eSATA ports, compact size makes it suitable for a cramped case.
- Each full-size PCIe slot only runs in x8 mode, requires a PCIe Switch Card to run a full-size PCIe x16 slot, not enough supplied USB ports.
Even though this board is inexpensive and has two eSATA ports, it's still quite limited. It doesn't have a dedicated PCIe x16 graphics slot, or USB 2.0 ports attached. Consider this board only if you're on a tight budget and if you're not going to be using a lot of expansion cards and USB devices.
Price$ 135.00 (AUD)
The ASRock ALiveXFire-eSATA2 AMD-based board is inexpensive, and while it does have a limited supply of expansion options, it comes with some cool features, namely eSATA and ATI CrossFire support.
The board is based on the AMD 480X CrossFire chipset and installing it under Windows Vista was a cinch. We didn't even have to use the supplied driver CD as Vista detected all of the hardware components and installed them automatically. We only had to install our graphics card driver in order to get our system fully functional.
The board's AM2 CPU socket supports AMD Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 and Sempron processors. For our tests, we used an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ CPU, 1GB of DDR2 800MHz RAM, a 150GB Western Digital Raptor hard drive and a GeForce 7600GT-based graphics card.
In WorldBench 6, the board recorded a score of 78, which is exactly what we were expecting, while 53min worth of WAV files took 1min 48sec to encode using Cdex. This indicates that the board isn't holding back the CPU at all. If you want more speed, the board's BIOS will allow you to tinker with the front side bus speed to get a higher CPU frequency. In 3DMark06, the 7600GT-based card scored 3076, which indicates reliability.
The board's layout is a little perplexing. It has two full-size PCIe slots, but both of them are only PCIe x8 slots. ASRock supplies a "PCIe Switch Card", which needs to be installed in the first PCIe slot in order to redirect its eight lanes down to the second slot. This needs to be done so that a single graphics card can run in PCIe x16 mode. PCIe x16 mode is necessary if you want to reap the performance benefits of high resolution and high detail games, using a single high-end graphics card, but either slot will run a graphics card just fine in x8 mode. In a dual-card CrossFire configuration, the "PCIe Switch Card" needs to be removed so that both graphics cards can be installed.
The "PCIe Switch Card" inhibits the board's expansion possibilities as it leaves only one PCIe x1 slot open when PCIe x16 mode is enabled on the other PCIe slots. The board already suffers from a shortage of fixed USB 2.0 ports (there are only two on the rear panel, and two available via an expansion bracket but there are four internal pin-headers) and lacks FireWire, so it's not the best board if you want to use a lot of expansion cards and peripheral devices.
As for the rest of the board's layout, we didn't have any problems installing our CPU or memory, there was adequate clearance around these slots, and the 20-pin power connector is located in a position that allows a 24-pin power cable to be installed. This is good news for newer power supplies as it means you won't have to purchase a 24-20-pin adapter cable.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 ASUS TUF FX505 (Ryzen 7) review: Tolerable trade-offs
- 2 Google Pixel 4 XL review (2019): Full Resolution
- 3 Google Pixel 3a review: Less is more
- 4 Moto G7 review: The new gold standard for budget buyers
- 5 JBL Free X review: Better battery life comes at a cost
Latest News Articles
- Inevitably, the Cyberpunk-themed Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti has arrived
- Razer reinvigorate a classic with DeathAdder V2
- HyperX add a-Naga gaming mouse to their lineup
- Intel give gamers a glimpse of their first dedicated GPU in action
- ASUS gamble on a new gaming mouse with a built-in joystick
PCW Evaluation Team
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
- Oppo Reno2 Z review
- HP Spectre x360 13: Full, in-depth review
- Here's how much the Motorola Razr will cost in Australia
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies