MSI Z68A-GD80 Revision G3 Reviewccokeman -
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Not too long ago, I looked at the B3 revision of this board and found it had a lot to offer in terms of its feature set and overclocking ability. I found that the G3 revision had a little bit more to offer the end user, not so much from a performance perspective, but in the feature set that MSI wanted to update this board with to ensure that there is some future proofing going forward to get ready for the next generation of Intel processors (Ivy Bridge). Included are the main features such as the Military Class II component selection using dynamic switching Super Ferrite Chokes, Solid State tantalum-based Hi-C self-repairing capacitors, 12 phase DrMOS-based power design, PCIe 3.0, and a bump in the warranty coverage period to five years on the Z68A-GD80 and Z68A-GD65. MSI's OC Genie II is an awesome one touch overclocking system that really has to be the easiest to use of all motherboard manufacturers. While there are similar tools out there on competitor boards, I found that MSI's hardware-based utility so far is the only one I have used recently that does not require extra tweaking of the settings to get the overclock fully stable. The tuning time is put in on the back end to get it right. If you get a good chip, the sky is the limit, but with my 2600K, it needs the internal PLL voltage override enabled, so I pretty much hit the same 4200+/-MHz limit I reached on the B3 version each and every time I implemented the tool. One of the biggest things for me, other than the excellent overclocking ability, is that MSI has finally fixed the cartoonish-looking uEFI BIOS and made it look more like a performance motherboard-based BIOS with Click BIOS II. Navigation through the BIOS is much easier than what was available on the B3 revision of the Z68A-GD80 with all the options under one main page vs. four different sub headings. OC Genie II offers excellent baseline stable overclocking, but working through the BIOS and in the OS with the Core Center application will allow a much higher overclock, in this case a bump of 561MHz on my weak kneed chip to 4.961 MHz, within .005MHz of the B3 revision. The clock speed generated by OC Genie II will give the end user additional performance for no additional cost or tweak time. Just be forewarned that you need to invest in a more capable cooling solution to keep the processor from overheating, as the stock Intel cooler is only good for stock speeds, with even that being debatable.
The Z68 chipset offers additional capabilities above those delivered by a P67-equipped board. Intel Smart Response technology offers tangible disk performance improvements over using just a mechanical drive, but still falls well short of of the disk performance using a dedicated SSD for the OS. Still, a low cost 64GB or smaller SSD will drive up disk performance. LucidLogix Virtu software enhances the power savings of the platform with switchable graphics that can be used with discrete GPU cards from AMD or NVIDIA. It works by connecting the monitor to the onboard graphics port so that it uses the HD 3000 (2000) IGP of the Sandy Bridge in low overhead 2D applications and uses the video feed from the discrete GPU in demanding 3D applications or games, all while connected to the onboard port. The upside is that you only need to connect to the one onboard DVI port regardless of the usage scenario (2D vs. 3D). The down side is there is a small performance hit in 3D applications, but nothing too significant for the current high end discrete cards.
MSI has not let up with this offering and continues to improve the product and brand for its consumers. You get all the latest technology to future proof your build (as much as is possible), a huge BIOS upgrade, a killer five year warranty, Military spec parts, and a board that overclocks with the best of them on the market, all for a $10 premium over the B3 board. Can you say winner?
- Overclocking BIOS
- OC Genie one touch overclocking
- Military Class II components
- Click BIOS II
- Five-Year Warranty
- PCIe 3.0
- Ivy Bridge Support
- LucidLogix Virtu Support
- CrossFireX and SLI Support