MSI Z68A-GD80 Revision G3 Reviewccokeman -
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With the Z68A-GD80 you get the latest revision of MSI's Control Center software. This application will allow you to overclock the system from within the operating system environment and instantly apply the settings for a real time check of the settings you have made. This in itself can save some time in finding those settings that work. Once found they can be applied in the Click BIOS II. The Overclocking section presents a total of four different areas that have either information or the capability of managing the clock speeds, voltages and/or memory timings. The Mainboard section gives top line information about the motherboard with more detail found under the "More" button to the right of the window. The CPU monitor section again gives top line info about the installed CPU, in this case an Intel second generation Core i7 2600K. The CPU monitor tab to the right of the window opens up a new window that shows the current CPU clock speed, clock multiplier, temperature, and maximum Turbo Boost ratio by cores. The "More" button shows information displayed that is similar to what you see displayed in CPU-Z. The OC Genie tab gives an illustrated tutorial on how to use the OC Genie II button.
Along with the Control Center, MSI puts a few other applications into the package that allow the user to take advantage of all the board has to offer. Live update is used to update the BIOS and drivers on the motherboard and can be configured to do this automatically or allow you to check on your own schedule. The Audio Genie allows for speaker calibration and THX mode settings. Super Charger is an app for charging your portable devices quickly through a powered USB port.
LucidLogix Virtu Software is included to take advantage of the Z68 chipset's ability to use dynamic switching between the Intel HD 3000 and an installed discrete GPU. The software comes with a preset list of supported games and applications, although I found 3DMark Vantage to not switch between the IGP and discrete card, while several games did show the jump in performance (indicating the sofware switched from IGP to the discrete graphics card).
To take advantage of Intel's Smart Response technology (SSD Caching), you will need to have the latest Rapid Storage technology driver, a small SSD, and a mechanical drive. This ability allows the most frequently accessed programs to be cached on the SSD for a faster response. Setup requires that the primary drive and solid state drive are installed and the controller is set to RAID instead of AHCI or IDE. Then, once the OS is installed to the mechanical drive and the drivers and INF are installed, install the latest RST (10.5.1026), reboot and open up the RST control panel, choose Accelerate and follow the directions. Once this is done, you can enjoy the benefits of a combination said to be faster than a hybrid drive. A small SSD is recommended with the largest cache supported being 64GB. Currently a 32GB SSD will set you back from 80 to 100 dollars. This option shows promise but a few more dollars spent can get you the full abilities of an SSD.
MSI's Winki is a small application that allow for a quick boot into a small Linux distro. The Winki software is enabled in the BIOS and allows for pretty much anything you can do in the Windows OS, like browsing the Internet, looking at files, or viewing and working with pictures.
MSI has made the Click BIOS II available in the OS environment to change settings and work through the BIOS. Not all the information and utilities are shown, but you can get a good feel for walking your way through the BIOS.
With that tease on the look of the new BIOS, let's dig a bit deeper into what MSI has to offer in terms of the Click BIOS II uEFI BIOS.