Power Consumption and Conclusions
The Z68A-GD80 kept pace with a couple other P67-based motherboards we pitted it against in the power consumption arena. Under idle conditions, the Z68A ran several watts lower than the other boards, but under load conditions, the board didn’t break the bank at 168 watts. The power management system MSI incorporated with the Z68A-GD80 is an excellent blend of hardware and software improvements to give users enough options to have an eco-friendly system or monster overclocking rig.
The Z68A-GD80 showed its prowess in several of our benchmarks, but the most impressive aspects of this board lies in its overclocking and power management capabilities. We were able to get a 4.789 GHz overclock using a Thermaltake Frio OCK cooler (two fans running at 2,000 RPMs), which is the highest overclock we have achieved with our i5-2500K processor. The Z68A board didn’t showcase any gaming improvements from the previous P67 series of boards so users looking for their next upgrade to play Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 may need to weigh other options before making their buying decision.
The addition of LucidLogix’s Virtu technology adds a very unique aspect to this board that users will appreciate. Users can tag team their system by using integrated graphics to play high definition movies and video transcoding and use their discrete graphics card for 3D gaming. PC builders also won’t have to manually change between the integrated and discrete graphics because the Virtu technology does it automatically.
As of Oct. 11, the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) is available at Newegg for $219.99. Consumers can also purchase this board at Amazon.com for $239.47 and Overstock.com for $249.99.
We’d like to thank MSI for providing the Z68A-GD80 motherboard for our review. The Z68A-GD80 builds upon the successes MSI had with their previous P67 motherboards and went all out with their next-generation Click BIOS II. Creating software that seamlessly ties into the BIOS to make changes right from Windows will help users overclock their systems on the fly and make other basic changes. The incorporation of Intel’s Z68 chipset really brings together the best features from the H67 and P67 chipsets and allows MSI to leverage all of those capabilities in this $220 motherboard. The addition of three PCI Express 3.0 slots really make this board future proof and a good solution for gamers with SLI or CrossfireX graphics configurations. Overall, the Z68A-GD80 earns PC Perspective’s Gold Award.
- Superb overclocker
- Three PCI Express 3.0 slots with SLI/CrossfireX support
- Voltage checkpoints
- Click BIOS II enhancements to modify BIOS in Windows
- Motherboard layout a bit awkward with placement of power, reset, and OC Genie buttons