MSI had quite a showing at this year’s Computex starting with a host of new motherboards based on the Z68 chipset. The most interesting of which was the new Z68A-GD80 (G3) that in addition to including all the features of the Sandy Bridge processor, SLI, CrossFire, Lucid Virtu and things like OC Genie II and Military Class Components II, is the first motherboard we have seen that integrates support for the PCI Express 3.0 specification.
MSI was able to do this by simply adhering to the already existing PCIe 3.0 specifications and claims the performance doubles from 8 GB/s up to 16 GB/s (for a x16 connection). Even though there are no PCIe 3.0 accessories or graphics cards on the market today, MSI has seen performance improvements when testing PCI Express based solid state drives like the OCZ Revo. We are eager to get this board in the hands of our storage guru and see what advantages it offers users today.
Next up is the new MSI 990FXA-GD80 motherboard based on AMD’s latest 990FX chipset. We actually have one of these in the office and should have a review up shortly. With support for today’s Phenom processors and tomorrow’s Bulldozer-core based designs, I think the 990FX chipset will find its way into a lot of users machines.
Even further out into the future, we saw a glimpse of an MSI engineering sample for the pending Socket 2011 processors from Intel, the MSI X79A-GD65. Supporting the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processor family and a new quad-channel memory controller, you can clearly see the 2011 socket is HUGE and requires the memory slots to be divided up on either side of it. A lot will change more than likely between now and this boards release but it is cool to see a preview of what is in store for us!
Finally, MSI did have another card in the Lightning series to show off, the N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition. This card has all the same engineering features of the previous Lightning models but adds in a couple of unique features called Smart Temp Sensor and Dust Removal.
The Smart Temp Sensor is actually a coating on the fan that changes from blue to white in appearance as the ambient temperature increases. If the inside of your chassis hits the 45C mark then the fans will be completely white and should give you an indication of system stability. My only concern is that even users with windows on their cases will have trouble seeing the fans on the graphics card cooler posted at a right angle.
The Dust Removal feature is more interesting in that it runs the fans on the Xtreme Edition in the reverse direction for the first 30 seconds of the power cycle and then return to the proper direction for cooling the heatsinks. The idea is that the 30 second reverse interval will help clear out dust from the heatsink and from the fan blades itself saving users in the long run.
Another interesting feature coming very soon to Android phone users is the ability to monitor and overclock your MSI graphics cards via an Afterburner app for your phone. This will be available this month or early in July for Android and *maybe* by the end of the year for iPhone.