When I’m not reviewing the occasional device, my main position at PC Perspective is in Video Production. That being said, video work is probably one of the biggest current markets for Thunderbolt technology. Between Thunderbolt video capture devices, to high speed storage arrays and SSDs, Thunderbolt may very well be an answer to the bandwidth problems that video professionals currently face. However, as is the case with new technologies, these devices come at a cost. The Pegasus R4 RAID array we used for Thunderbolt performance testing earlier in this review runs about $1000 for the 4 X 1 TB drive option. Add in the cost of the 4 Corsair SSDS we have, and you are well past $1500 for the performance we saw.
That being said, as with any new technologies, the price and availability should decrease as adoption rates increase. This is where boards like the Z77A-GD80 comes into play. With MSI and other vendors being on the cutting edge, and putting Thunderbolt on their fully featured boards such as the GD80. While having Thunderbolt on the high end SKUs is great itself, and several other motherboard vendors have done this as well, MSI is taking the Thunderbolt approach a step further.
While I was taking a look at this motherboard, MSI announced the Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt motherboard. As you may have guessed from the G45 name, this will be a lower end SKU in the MSI product lineup but this will be the most inexpensive Thunderbolt-enabled motherboard. While we don’t have final pricing, we expect this board to be well under $200, and most likely in the $150 range. Even with this price jump, MSI has promised the same Thunderbolt performance. We will certainly keep you updated on any news with this board, and hopefully take a look at it when it debuts.
Beyond Thunderbolt, which of course is the main attraction to the Z77A-GD80, this is an extremely solid motherboard with the Z77 chipset. From things like 3 PCI-e x16 slots, ample USB 3.0 ports and display outputs, as well as MSI’s surprisingly impressive software suite, the GD80 is nothing shy of a fully featured motherboard.
In a crowded Z77 chipset motherboard, the GD80 is a great all around option. Beyond being a rock solid motherboard, the GD80 was the first Intel certified Thunderbolt motherboard. Even though it is one of the first Thunderbolt boards, MSI seems to have hit the ball out of the park on their first implementation. If you are interested in Thunderbolt, this very well could be the board to get.