Excellent OC utilities
Little tight for CPU coolers
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No look at any new motherboard technology would be complete without at least one example from MSI. Strangely, when you look on MSI's global website there are seven boards using Z68 but on the UK site there's just this solitary example: the Z68A-GD65 (B3).
It's just as well it's a well-featured board then. Just like the Asus P8Z68-V Pro there is more than a passing resemblance to a previous MSI P67 board; in this case the P67A-GD65.
It comes with all the goodies found on MSI's better equipped boards: OC Genie II, Military Class components in the power design, APS (Active Phase Switching) Click BIOS and MSI's UEFI BIOS with its large easy to use interface.
For the time being MSI has all its UK motherboard eggs in this one basket, so how's the weave?
MSI defiantly had the enthusiast in mind when it designed Z68A-GD65. It has some features on the board that only they could appreciate; for example there is a check point block to take direct measurements of various voltages the board is using via a probe.
On the bottom edge of the board there are a couple of large power and reset buttons for use with an open case or test bench. Usually the button for the OC Genie II is close by these two buttons but not on this board. It's tucked away on the top right edge of the board, just behind the memory slots. This makes it pretty hard to get to once the board has been installed in a case, unless, of course, you have pristine cable runs.
Although the OC Genie II technology is very good, and the Control Center II software overclocking application is equally impressive, we sorted out the overclocking the old fashioned way. By delving into the BIOS, we managed a fairly speedy 4.7GHz out of our 2600K.
As usual MSI has gone to great lengths to get the best components for the power circuitry, which MSI like to call their Military Class II. These top notch Hi-c Caps, Super Ferrite Chokes and Solid Caps all help to keep the board stable, particularly when its being pushed hard when overclocked.
These parts of the power design are cooled by a pair of passive heatsinks which are connected together with a heatpipe. Just like the Asus P8Z68-V Pro, MSI has used a third party Marvell chip to supply a couple more SATA 6Gbps ports giving the Z68A-GD65 a total of four along with four SATA 3Gbps ports.
That's where the third-party fun stops though. There's a pair of x16 PCI-e slots, supporting CrossFire or SLI setups, but as they're both run from the single x16 lane they can't both run at top whack. Use a single card and the slot runs at full speed, but adding a second card splits the PCI-e lanes so both slots run at x8 speed.
It may be a rather lonesome offering from MSI, and we assume there must be more UK bound, but it's a robust and feature-rich Z68 board at a decent price.
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