A little while ago we tested the MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) motherboard, a product with an absolutely gorgeous design. Merely weeks later another SKU based of this model has been released, the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3).
The G3 hints to something we have been hearing about for a while now, yes this is the debut of a PCI Express 3.0 compatible motherboard.
Combined with Intel's latest design standard, this comes with two PCIe 3.0 -- one x16 and one x8 -- and three PCIe 2.0 slots, two USB 3.0 ports, and four DIMM slots.
But as always lets address the Z68 chipset first, as that's been topic of discussion ever since its release. In the first wave of all Sandy bridge related goodness, Intel, for the consumer market, allowed two primary chipsets in the mainstream and performance segment, H67 and P67. H67 is directed at mainstream, does not allow any overclocking yet comes with monitor output support like HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort. P67 on the other end is performance and enthusiast tweaking oriented, in combo with a K series processor like the Core i7 2600K we'll be using today you can do some seriously crazy stuff, like overclocking on air close to 5 GHz. But here you do not get the option for monitor outputs.
So something was clearly missing, and today Intel is going to close that gap with the Z68 chipset. A chipset that has the full feature set of BOTH the H67 and P67 chipsets, and then it also has a little surprise in store.
With the Z68 Intel also introduces Intel Smart Response Technology, which allows you to use a SSD to cache a large volume HDD, it's a bit of a hybrid mode, a symbiosis of the two to gain on static storage performance. Next to that, most Z68 motherboards will get the ability to switch in-between the processor IGP and a dedicated graphics card. That means you could use the Sandy Bridge IGP for seriously fast transcoding, yet once you want to play a game with your dedicated graphics card, that 3D accelerated solution will kick in. Pretty cool stuff, in theory.
MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3)
- PCI Express Gen 3 slots
- Military Class II components: Top quality & stability
- OC Genie II: Auto OC to boost performance in 1 sec
- ClickBIOS: Easy-to-use UEFI BIOS interface
- Super Charger: fast charge iPad/iPhone/smartphone
- THX TruStudio PRO: delivers the fullest audio experience
- Supports USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s
So, today a closer look at the technology, and of course we'll review a unit; the Z68 motherboard tested, reviewed and spanked comes from MSI. We'll test their Z68A-GD80 G3 motherboard. A sincerely cool looking motherboard that is equipped with the latest gadgets, features and obviously that Z68 chipset.
Have a peek at the motherboard, and then let's head onwards into the review.