TweakTown

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review

We check out the new MSI Z68A-GD80 which has got a pretty nice black and blue setup going on. Let's see how it goes.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Wed, May 11 2011 10:14 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

Introduction

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 02 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 29 IMAGES


It's been a long time since we've had a look at a board from MSI, but the release of a new chipset from Intel seems like the perfect time to look at one. Today we'll be looking at the MSI Z68A-GD80 which is one of the two Z68 boards MSI are currently listing on their website.

Aside from the Z68A-GD80 we're looking at today, the only other one currently listed on the MSI website is the Z68MA-ED55 which is a mATX board. So if you're looking for something that's going to fill up your case, the chances are you'll be eyeing the bad boy we have with us today.

Due to the fact that we've already done an extended look into the MSI Z68A-GD80 in our MSI Z680A-GD80 Preview a few days back, we won't be going into any detail on the board or package as we've already covered that extensively. Instead we'll be getting straight into the BIOS to see how that looks before we cover overclocking and then of course the performance of the board in a large range of benchmarks.

BIOS

BIOS

Like a lot of companies, MSI use a UEFI BIOS. Theirs is very different to that of what we've seen from companies like ASRock and ASUS over the past few months. They call there's "CLiCKBIOS" and while it is initially a little confusing to get a hang of from an enthusiast perspective, the layout doesn't take long to adjust to.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 03 | TweakTown.com


You can see MSI have really opted for an easy to use BIOS with the areas being clearly marked.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 04 | TweakTown.com


Going into Green Power, you can see some of the basic settings along with the level certain voltages are at.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 05 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 06 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 07 | TweakTown.com


If we go into Utilities we've got a sub menu that gives us the ability to do Live Update, HDD Back or change the Boot Screen. Here we've also get a Memory Test utility that makes sure your memory is working perfectly. It's good to know ours was.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 08 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 09 | TweakTown.com


If we go into the Overclocking section it's here you see most of the advanced BIOS features that you would be accustomed to seeing if you're a BIOS aficionado. Here you can set your RAM speed, voltages, BCLK, CPU Ratio and more.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 10 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 12 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 13 | TweakTown.com


Finally, we have the settings section and under that you'll find the option to do things like flash the BIOS, set your boot order, check your system status along with disable and enable features like networking, RAID etc.

Initially I found myself getting a little lost just because it was so new to me, but really, it's a clean setup that is easy to use. The good news is that at the same time MSI have "dumbed" options down, going into the overclocking section you do get all the main features you'd want and expect which is great news.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 99 | TweakTown.com


We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, G.Skill, Kingston, Mittoni and Corsair.

Compared to our ASRock Z68 Extreme4 motherboard review, little has changed today when it comes to what we'll be comparing the MSI Z68A-GD80 board against. Representing the X58 chipset, we've got our ASRock X58 Extreme3 and 980X.

For the P67 platform we've got the Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra with our 2600k and for the new Z68 we've got our ASRock tested at both stock and overclocked to 5.05GHz.

As for the MSI Z68A-GD80, that will be tested in three ways today. The first will be at stock which comes as no surprise. The second will be using the MSI Auto Overclocking feature via OC Genie II and the third will be us going into the BIOS and messing around with everything ourselves to see just how much speed we can get from the board.

OC Genie II is extremely easy to use. All you do is push the button on the motherboard while the system is off and then turn it on as you normally would. It will do a little bit of a song and dance and the next thing you'll be in Windows overclocked. How much of an overclock is dependent on your CPU etc. but you should gain a good couple of 100MHz at least.

With a push of a button we were in Windows at 4.2GHz. When compared to some of the overclocks of over 5GHz we can achieve when getting into the BIOS, it's not the biggest overclock. Considering you have to do nothing more than push a button, though, it's a fantastic 800MHz overclock over the default 3.4GHz that's on offer from our 2600k.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com


Above you can see our CPU Validation and it's really pretty good that without having to go into the BIOS you're able to achieve an 800MHz overclock.

That was great and everything, but what we really wanted to know was what happens when we get into the BIOS and really start to dabble. I went for the normal 50x CPU ratio and 101 BCLK. This seemed to be the limit of what my CPU is able to offer. That of course booted up no problem which was good to see, so it was time to head back into the BIOS to see if we had any more head room.

Well, after mucking around for a few hours I found myself quite amazed with what the MSI board was able to offer. It was also great to see that the little 2600k had more room in it than I originally thought.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 500 | TweakTown.com


We ended up in Windows as high as 5.4GHz, but unfortunately we did get a BSOD during our Hyper PI test. The same couldn't be said for 5.35GHz, though.

This was just a massive overclock for our CPU and it will be really interesting to see the kind of numbers we're able to pull at this speed since it's the highest my 2600k has been able to achieve to date.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 30 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 31 | TweakTown.com


Out of the box both the MSI and ASRock boards perform very similar to each other. When we threw OC Genie II into the mix we see a nice boost in overall performance thanks to that 4.2GHz clock. Where we see the board really shine, though, is at that massive 5.35GHz clock speed which blows everything else out of the water.

CPU Benchmarks Continued

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99
Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com


At stock speeds there's no real surprises; you can see as we crank that CPU speed up, though, the performance on our MSI board becomes better and better.


AutoGK

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.55
Developer Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Download It Here

AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 33 | TweakTown.com


As we gain more and more MHz with the MSI Z68A-GD80 we see performance improve in leaps and bounds.

Storage Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 34 | TweakTown.com


MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 35 | TweakTown.com


USB 2.0 and storage performance both fall in line with what we would expect from the motherboard. As long as performance isn't worse, we're not going to complain about anything. You can see the effectiveness of that XFast USB feature on the ASRock board, though.

Memory Benchmarks

Sisoft Sandra

Version and / or Patch Used: 2011
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Product Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Buy It Here

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 37 | TweakTown.com


In OC Genie II we saw our memory move to 2133MHz DDR from 1866MHz DDR. For that reason we see some strong performance from the MSI board at this setting. At 5.2GHz our memory falls more in line with others when it's at 1866MHz DDR.


AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA
Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com
Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com
Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 36 | TweakTown.com


You can really see the write performance on our RAM modules sky rocket as we climb the MHz ladder. At 5.35GHz the write performance on our kit is just huge here.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 38 | TweakTown.com



Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 39 | TweakTown.com


Even with such a massive overclock we see very little movement in our video benchmarks and that's because even at the default 3.4GHz offered by the 2600k, we're just not CPU limited.

Temperature and Power

Core Temperature

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 41 | TweakTown.com


It comes as no surprise at all as we climb up in speed and the voltage on our CPU, the increased heat jumps up. Even at 5.35GHz, though, the idle temperature is extremely good on the MSI Z68A-GD80.

One of the biggest reasons for the big increase in temperature at 5.35GHz, though, would have to be the small amount of droop on offer from the MSI board. With our CPU voltage set to 1.5v in the BIOS the reported numbers under load were 1.47v, which is extremely strong when compared to the ASRock which drooped down to 1.41v.


Power Draw Tests

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 40 | TweakTown.com


As we pump more and more volts through our system to achieve a huge overclock, you can see the power draw does indeed climb. The numbers aren't out of the ordinary, though, and really for a setup like what we've got today a strong power supply like the AX750 from Corsair would be perfect as it gives you headroom for another video card later down the track.

Z68 Specific Tests

Lucid Virtru

MSI Z68A-GD80 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 42 | TweakTown.com


We continue to see as we move upwards in processor speed that overall performance is increased. Thanks to that massive 5.35GHz CPU clock as well, MSI is able to pull out ahead here when compared to our ASRock at 5.05GHz.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

MSI has put together a really good board that not only looks good, but packs a bunch of features and a great BIOS that has offered us a really strong overclock. Of course, if you're wondering where the pictures of the motherboard and box are, you'll see them in our extensive MSI Z680A-GD80 Preview we did on the board last week.

It's been a decade since I've used an MSI board and they've come an extremely long way in that time. Outside of the bundle and the visual looks of the board, you've got some fantastic features on offer. The Military Class II aspect of the board means extremely high quality components are used while OC Genie II makes overclocking for newbies an absolute breeze.

MSI clearly understand that overclocking can be a bit of a daunting task and messing around in the BIOS continues to scare people. Knowing that all you have to do is push a simple button, though, and you can gain 100s of extra MHz is fantastic. Of course, if you want to jump in the BIOS and really start to mess around, all the options are there.

On the topic of the BIOS, the CLiCKBIOS is a little daunting at first sight for people who have used some of the more standard designed UEFI BIOS, but behind the simplistic layout are all the options you want and need. While initially it offers that user friendly and bright display, if you want to really dive into what's on offer, everything is there.

The MSI Z61A-GD80 offers everything and more users would expect out of a motherboard. It will be extremely interesting to see what the Z68MA-ED55 could offer with its Micro ATX form factor. For now, though, if you're looking for a full sized Z68 board, the MSI offering we've got here today is a fantastic one.

What do TweakTown.com awards mean? Click for details!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription

Latest News

View More News

Latest Reviews

View More Reviews

Latest Articles

View More Articles