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

The DDR3 memory slots on the GD80 are color coded blue and black, each to indicate a memory channel. According to MSI the blue slots are to be populated first if a two stick configuration is used.

The 10 LEDs near the memory slots indicate the current CPU power phase mode. The higher the power phase number, the more reliable the power flow to the processor. The large Fintek chip marked F71889AD is the board’s Super I/O chip and is responsible for system monitoring.

You may notice a few more Renesas R2J20651 DrMOS chips and chokes near the RAM slots; these make up the VTT circuit which includes Uncore and memory controllers. Moving further out from this area we find the 24-pin power connector and the voltage read points. Voltage read points are always a handy addition to any board, especially for overclockers.

Next are the SATA ports, 7 in total. The white ports on the right are Intel ports and run 6GB/s while the four black ports are also connected to the Intel Z68 chipset and run at 3Gb/s. All of the ports running from the chipset support SSD caching. The remaining white port is 6Gb/s and is run by a Marvell 88SE9128 SATA controller. All in all, most users will find this layout more than sufficient but anyone with a large RAID array may be forced to look elsewhere for more drive installation points.

The board's corner has a number of connectors: three USB 2.0 headers, two front panel connectors, a TPM Module connector, and a DLED3 connector. The TPM Module and MSI control card (DLED3) are not included with the board but can be purchased separately. The ASMedia chip marked ASM1083 is a USB 3.0 host controller that runs the USB 3.0 header next to the OC Genie button.

Speaking of the OC Genie button, it is well placed and can be pushed down to enable auto overclocking. The button will remain depressed until it is pushed again to disable OC Genie. We'll look at what this can accomplish in our Overclocking Section a bit later in the review.

Next to that are power and reset buttons and a 1394 header. The connector marked JSP1 is a S/PDIF-Out Expansion Connector and the connector marked JAUD1 is the front panel audio connector.

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