Looking at the board, the first thing you have to notice is of course the size; it's smaller as we mentioned earlier, because it's based on the mATX platform instead of the larger ATX platform that we see most motherboard companies offer. Design wise, though, it's very similar to the full size board with that darker color PCB along with the black and blue slot setup.
As we start to move in closer to the board, the big thing you'll notice when you move to the mATX platform is the limited amount of slots that are present compared to the ATX option. With that said, MSI have done a good job here offering us two x1 PCI-E slots and two x16 PCI-E slots.
If you're only going to be using one card, you'll of course have full x16 speed, but like other Z68 boards, if you throw in a second for CrossFire your setup will move to x8 / x8.
Across the bottom of the board we've got a load of headers including one firewire, four USB 2.0, our front panel headers on the right and an audio header on the left. The main stand out here, though, would be the easy buttons that MSI implement. This makes turning the machine on / off and resetting it extremely easy when not installed in a case. It's really nice to see that MSI have kept this on the board as quite often it's one of the first things to go when companies shrink down to the mATX format.
Turning the corner, we've got a total of six SATA ports and all are controlled natively by the Z68 chipset. The four black are SATA II while the two white are SATA III. Apart from the SATA ports, there's really not much else here to be seen.
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