MSI Z68A-GD80 G3 Z68 Motherboard Review

Author: Zac “Eldonko” Ryan
Date: December 31, 2011
Product Name: Z68A-GD80 G3
Part Number: Z68A-GD80 (G3)
Warranty: 5 Years
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A Closer Look at the Z68A-GD80 G3

Above is a map of the Z68A-GD80 G3 motherboard layout with descriptions of the various parts. Looking at the board from a high level view, you can see that MSI left a good amount of PCI-E expansion space without any obstacles in the way so running multi card setups here should present no clearance issues at all.

The cooling system on the GD80 consists of a heatpipe cooler for the VRM and a passive heatsink on the chipset. The Z68 chipset runs at very low temperatures so additional thermal dissipation isn't needed.

The heatsink above the Z68 chipset is held down with two screws and there are yellow rubber spacers to ensure a snug and even fit. All in all, it makes good contact a should have plenty of additional overhead for extreme overclocking situations.

Lines of Hi-c caps, solid caps, ferrite chokes, and DrMOS surround the CPU socket and comprise the main part of the GD80's power system. These all add up to a 12 phase advanced digital VRM design which -like the cooling system- should be more than sufficient for long term overclocking stability and should still have capacity to burn when pushing the limits of Sandy Bridge chips.

A big part of why the GD80 has a 5 year warranty is the inclusion of Military Class II VRM components. There are the Hi-c caps which are the flat capacitors located between the chokes and the CPU socket and supposedly have eight times the lifespan of a solid cap. They are made from Tantalum which has extremely high electrical conductivity and should also work towards increasing overall electrical efficiency as well.

The super ferrite chokes on the GD80 run cooler and can handle more power than typical chokes and DrMOS chips support APS (Active Phase Switching) which makes it possible for the board to shut down unused phases to save power. The UT257 PWM controller chip pictured above is the brains of the VRM and ties all of the different power sections together.

The CPU socket itself is socket LGA1155, the predecessor to LGA1156 and made my Lotes. The socket hold down is typical to most 1155 boards and is held in place by a backplate on the reverse side.

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