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MSI Z68A-GD80 Revision G3 Review

ccokeman    -   October 27, 2011
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Closer Look:

MSI was much maligned for the look of the Click BIOS implementation launched with its P67 chipset motherboards. It looked cartoonish and really looked out of place on a high performance motherboard. With the Z68A-GD80 G3, MSI went back to the drawing board and came up with a refresh that looks great, but more importantly, is more functional in terms of quickly finding what you are looking for in this BIOS. The new look contains the features you need to use and is easier to navigate through. At the top of the window you get information about the installed components, the time, date, and boot priority. There are three "modes" that can be chosen that limit the amount of control over the BIOS functionality. Eco is used for a base set of energy saving settings, Standard mode brings in all the functions and adjustments, and the OC Genie mode is used when the OC Genie button is selected to overclock the system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Settings:

Under this section are the System Status, Advanced, Boot, and Save & Exit drop down menu's. The System Status menu shows the date and time and the connected system drive and system information on the installed processor. The Advanced drop down has more detail and is where you can configure the integrated peripherals, such as the system drives mode (IDE, AHCI, RAID), enable or disable the LAN controllers, and enable or disable the audio controller. The Hardware Monitor is where the fan controller settings can be configured, as well as monitoring the CPU and System temperatures. Integrated Graphics is where the setup is done to enable Virtu Technology and set the IGP mode between i-mode, d-mode or disabled. There are a few more settings, but these few are where the most time can be spent. The Boot menu is where the drive boot order is established. It can be done at the top of the main menu by dragging and dropping the drives in the correct order or preference. Additionally, the full screen logo can be turned on or off to suit the end user's preference.

 

 

 

 

Overclocking Setting:

This tab is where all the overclocking action takes place outside of the operating system. The bclock is adjusted in granular increments of 10kHz. A slew of options are available including adjustments for the CPU ratio in and outside of the OS. Internal PLL Overvoltage can help multiplier-limited chips like my 2600K step above the multiplier wall. Intel Turbo Boost and EIST should be enabled for overclocking. DRAM Frequency has six different settings (plus auto) to fine tune the DRAM speed that the installed modules will run at. XMP is for those who want "set it and forget it" memory speeds without having to use the OC Genie one touch OC tool. DRAM Timing mode can be set to link or unlink the settings made in the Advanced DRAM Configuration drop down menu. Vdroop control is the Load Line Calibration tool and only has Auto and Low vdroop as options. The CPU Core, CPU I/O, DRAM, System Agent, and CPU PLL voltages can be tweaked. The DDR-Vref voltages are used when really pushing the limits of the memory modules for extreme clocks. Overclocking Profiles allows for saving up to six distinct "Profiles" or settings packages. Recovery from a failed overclock or just a new batch of settings can be applied and saved for quick access. CPU Specifications shows the CPU technologies, Memory-Z shows the SPD values assigned to the memory modules, and CPU Features provides the ability to enable many of the Intel-specific features, such as C1E and the ability to set the Turbo core limits by core.

 

 

ECO:

This section is where the energy saving features are enabled or disabled, such as Intel C-States, C1E Support, and CPU Phase control that can be set between Intel SVID, APS(Active Phase Switching) or disabled. EuP 2013 is the Standby mode supported with this implementation not to exceed 1.00 watt of current in standby or off mode when priding a display. Voltages can be checked here, as well as the current draw through the Green Power Genie section.

 

Utilities:

In this section are the HDD Backup , Live update and M-Flash. HDD Backup and Live update can be used from either the Winki quick boot software or in the operating system and by clocking either of these icons that is where the direction goes. M-Flash is used as a way to flash the BIOS with a simple to use utility that looks for the replacement BIOS ROM file on removable media like a thumb drive.

 

 

Password Security:

In this section, admin and user passwords can be configured. Chassis Intrusion settings are configured here as well.

 

I really like what MSI has done here with this update to the Click BIOS. Working through the menus for the first time was easy and I quickly found what I was looking for. There were no distractions or funky coloring to take away from the smooth look of the BIOS.




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