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MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Preview

By: Shawn Baker | Socket LGA 1155 in Motherboards | Posted: May 7, 2011 10:21 am
Manufacturer: MSI

MSI Z68A-GD80 - The Board


Pulling the Z68A-GD80 out of the box, we've got for the most part a black and blue setup going on. You can also see some of the main highlights and again we see the "Military Class II" labeling on the heatsink around the CPU area.






Getting a look at the motherboard, we can see quite a healthy setup when it comes to expansion ports. We've got two older PCI ports, two PCI-E 1x ports and three PCI-E 16x ports. Of course, being the Z68 chipset, when you install two video cards using the top two ports they will both run at only 8x. If you add a third card into the mix the third will run only at 4x.


What I like most about this setup, though, is that there's a two slot gap between the first PCI-E 16x and the second PCI-E 16x. While some might think there's nothing special about that, if you opt for a SLI or CrossFire setup your top card still has some room to breathe and draw in some cool air.




Above all the expansion slots we have a 6-Pin PCI-E power connector. MSI say this is designed to make sure power to the video cards is extra stable, which in turn can help offer a higher overclock. It's something we're seeing on more and more motherboards when it comes to higher end designs. With good quality mid-range and upward PSUs having so many connectors, moving one onto the motherboard to make sure your VGA power is constant and stable shouldn't be a problem.




Moving away from the slots and checking out the bottom of the board, we can see from the left a HD Audio and 1394 FireWire header. Next to that we've got three buttons; reset, power and "OC Genie". The first two will make sense, but the third may not. We'll discuss what "OC Genie" is capable of later, but won't show you until after the NDA.


Continuing to move across, we've got four USB headers; the first one which is blue is USB 3.0 while the next three are USB 2.0. Next to and slightly above them we have "JFP" headers which are for the front panel controls on your case; buttons like power and reset and LEDs for power and HDD activity.




Turning the corner, we can see the "JFP2" header a little clearer while on the other side we can see two fan headers. In-between these connections we have a total of seven SATA ports. The six together are all controlled by the Intel Z68 chipset; the black are SATA2 while the white are SATA3. The third white SATA port that sits by itself is controlled by the Marvell 88SE9128 controller and is of course SATA3 as well.


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