|MSI Z68A-GD80 Intel Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 01 June 2011|
Page 15 of 15
MSI Z68A-GD80 Conclusion
Although we strive to be as objective as possible, any review will reflect to some extent the perceptions and biases of the reviewer. Also, keep in mind that the computer market is very volatile, and that today's killer super product can easily become yesterday's also-ran as the market competition changes. Don't base a purchase decision solely on this review, but use it as part of your research.
MSI's aiming directly at the enthusiast market with its line of military spec motherboards and video cards. It's possible the tantalum capacitors, "DrMOS", and Super Ferrite Chokes would enable higher stable overclocks when using water or phase-change cooling, although they didn't seem to make any difference in my testing with overclocking on air. Although MSI claims an extended life span for these parts, their 3-year warranty is the same as that offered by ASUS. Still, I confess to a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that I'm unlikely to smoke anything with my overclocking experiments. Granted, smoking components is a rite of passage in this hobby, but I like to think I'm past that now.
The performance of this board was excellent. The only problem was oddly low scores at stock speeds in benchmarks that stressed the Core i7 2600K's integrated GPU. I have no explanation for this, but it was consistent. MSI makes up for this by providing automatic overclocking for the iGPU with their OC Genie button. I wasn't able to beat the overclock I achieved on the ASUS board, but since the maximum settings were identical in either case, I'm pretty sure the CPU is the limiting factor here.
Appearance is always a subjective matter. The Z68A-GD80's blue, black, and grey coloring is almost somber compared to some of the boards out there, although frankly I think MSI went a little overboard with the silk-screened logos. From "DrMOS Equipped" to "Super Pipe" to "Green Power Design" to "Easy Button", I counted 18 such callouts on the board, and I probably missed some!
MSI highlights this motherboard's enthusiast market with features like dual BIOSes and voltage measuring points. The THX TruStudio Pro sound is a plus for the younger set, although it's probably wasted on my 55-year-old ears. The extra power connector by the PCI-E slots should help with overclocking video cards.
My only real complaint re the functionality of the board is that MSI only supplies a single PWM fan header, so you'll only be able to control the speed of the CPU fan, and not the four chassis fans. I'd also like to see a POST code display, but I suppose you can't have everything.
For $239.99 at Newegg, this board is about $20 more than ASUS' P8Z68-V Pro. That probably just covers the extra cost of the mil-spec componentry, and it's something to consider if you're a hard-core overclocker.
If you've bought a P67 or H67 board, the very existence of the new Z68 motherboards might frustrate you (perhaps you can sell your existing motherboard). But the advantages are significant and it's worth considering an upgrade.
+ Can use integrated Sandy Bridge video and a discrete video card
- BIOS defaults to IDE mode for SATA ports
Final Score: 8.95 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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