The successor of the P965, is may be slightly faster, with the only difference being support for 45nm CPUs and DDR3 memory. With prices sky-high, DDR3 is not an issue as yet.
MSI has choosen an AMI BIOS. The overclocking settings are set in the two menus. The memory timing submenu is still the most user unfriedly so far. While any other vendor will give you the choice to set it manually or auto, MSI doesn't. If you disable SPD you have to set every timing by yourself. Its also annoying that some OC modules do support tWTR timings of 3 but the lowest setting is 4.
After fideling around we noticed the BIOS sets values as it pleased.
The first row is the SPD readout from Everest, the second row is what the BIOS sets when using SPD, the third shows the manual entered values and the forth what the BIOS did with them.
We are working with MSI to fix this issue but it does take longer than we expected. We guess that extra latencies happens because of the chipset, but no explanation was given, only "other vendors" do the same, which is not satisfying at all.
We did of course try 500MHz, and we saw the light - at least a BIOS screen. Stable operation was not possible, some P965 boards can do this without a problem. With 490MHz we could boot up windows, but applications will crash. Reducing the FSB to 485MHz, was the maximum stable setting to run some test. This is not that bad, but we expected more, especially with the Revision 1.1 board.
The board supports 1066MHz due overclocking, with the Revision 1.0 we could not run it stable with even 1000Mhz in certain situations. Revision 1.1 changed that. Memory clock with 1067MHz does run without any problems. With 1200MHz the situation changed, Corsair did not like to boot up into Windows, Kingston worked, but crashed with GordianKnot. Other boards can do better. The interesting part is, we do use a BIOS 1.32 which does still not show on the MSI website.
When setting VCore in the BIOS do not expect that is the VCore you will receive. Using default it will set to 1.275V with our CPU, but of course checking with cpu-z and Everest we saw it is at least 0.025V higher. Overclocking went well up to 3.66GHz, higher overclocks did not work stable, but 3.66GHz is what we expected, nothing changed with the board revisions.
Before benchmarking we checked the reference frequency. At 266.66MHz, 320MHz and 333.33MHz FSB the board was slightly overclocked, so we re-calculated any benchmarks results to "should be" frequencies.
Also note we did the tests with the Revision 1.0 board, which is slightly faster than the Revision 1.1 with the 1.32 BIOS. But the difference is marginal.