Recently MSI released the GD65 version of their Z77A motherboard. We already reviewed it and it is a top notch product. Of course MSI also had something else under their sleeves, they always release a GD80 version which is more high end. And that's what we'll be reviewing today, the high-end version aka the MSI Z77A GD80. Albeit it shares 95% of the DNA of the GD65 it comes with one feature that some of you will be very interested in, a ThunderBolt controller.
To put it very bold, or to bol't'ly go where no one has gone before Thunderbolt (formerly know as Light Peak ) is the fast version of a storage connector like the 5 Gbps USB 3.0, yet twice as fast as it is running at 10 Gbps.
Thunderbolt is based on the very Mini DisplayPort connector developed by Apple and delivers two communications methods, or protocols, on a single cable: PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort for displays. Thunderbolt is interoperable with DisplayPort 1.2 compatible devices. So remember that, the Thunderbolt connector functions both as display port and Thunderbolt connector
Thunderbolt technology delivers transfers data in each direction, at the same time (full duplex) - using a single cable to connect devices. That way it's no longer needed to connect multiple devices directly to your PC. Using multiple connection in a daisy chain, the amount of cables directly attached to your PC will be reduced while maintaining maximum throughput.
GD80 is obviously based on Z77 chipset, it is of course the predominantly released for Ivy Bridge based processors. These motherboards will have a slightly altered feature set and thus support the new Ivy Bridge apples from Intel. Good to know however is that Z77 also supports Sandy Bridge Socket 1155 based processors, that's right your favorite Core i5 2500K and Core i7 2600K will be perfect for these motherboards as well.
The changes for Z77 can primarily be found in the native USB 3.0 support as well as an upgrade towards PCie gen 3 PCIe x16 slots. The MSI Z77A-GD65 is intended for Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge processors on Socket LGA1155. Of course MSI applied their Military Class III components on the motherboard and you'll spot OC Genie II which increases your overall CPU, Memory performance.
Have a peek at what was just released, this is the MSI Z77A-GD80 motherboard. Onwards to the next page please.