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MSI Z68A-GD80-G3 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review

The MSI motherboard arrives in a traditionally designed MSI box with a list of key selling points.

The bundle is good, there are several manuals, 4 x SATA 6Gbps capable cables, an SLI bridge, back plate, software discs and a USB 3.0 header.

The board itself also follows a traditional MSI blue and dark brown colour scheme with some oversized heatsinks to aid with cooling proficiency.

The MSI board is equipped with three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. If the top slot is used in a single mode, it will run at x16 bandwidth. If two are added, then they both run at x8 bandwidth. Using the top slot with the bottom slot allows for a x8 x4 configuration.

The last slot should really be avoided if possible as it will negate the use of an eSATA port, one of the SATA ports and a USB 3.0/Firewire port.

Along the bottom of the board are audio connections and a FireWire header. Next to this are reset, power and the OC Genie button. Along the left are USB 3.0 headers and three USB 2.0 headers.

The board has seven SATA ports. The black ports are SATA II capable, and the two on the right run from the Z68 chipset, they are SATA III capable. The vertically mounted SATA port is SATA III and is powered by the Marvell 88SE9128 controller.

A full list of the internal connectors is as follows:

  • ATX 24-Pin power connector
  • 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 6-pin ATX 12V VGA connector
  • CPU x 1 / System x 4 FAN connectors
  • CD-in connector
  • Front panel audio connector
  • Front panel connector
  • 1 x chasis intrusion connector
  • 3 x USB 2.0 connectors
  • 1 x USB 3.0 connectors
  • 4 x Serial ATAII connectors
  • 3 x Serial ATAIII connectors
  • 1 x IEEE1394 connector
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x SPDIF-out connector
  • 1 x TPM module connector
  • 1 x Voltage Check Point
  • 1 x Power button
  • 1 x Reset button
  • 1 x OC Genie button

The MSI motherboard supports 4 x DDR3 memory sticks, up to 32GB and at 1066/1333/1600/2133mhz (OC) speeds.

The CPU socket has enough space to fit oversized coolers, and there are two large heatsinks to help maintain stability during overclocked situations – with ‘Military class’ branding. There is an 8 pin CPU power connector, close by. The board is populated with quality Hi-C capacitors, these are made of the rare element Tantalum often used on space shuttles and satellites, these sustain high temperatures and deliver excellent electrical conductivity. MSI are also using Super Ferrite Chokes, which operate at an (apparent) 35 degree Celsius lower temperature than regular designs.

The I/O panel is fully loaded. Here is a list of the connectivity options:

  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 1 x IEEE1394 port
  • 2 x RJ45 LAN Jacks
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x eSATA port
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x DVI-I port
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack

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