MSI P67A-GD80 LGA 1155 ATX Motherboard Review
Specifications, Packaging, Layout, Included Extras
P67A-GD80 technical specifications (taken from MSI's website)
• Supports Intel® Sandy Bridge processors in LGA1155 package.
Please refer to CPU Support for compatible CPU; the above description is for reference only.
• Intel® P67 (B3) Chipset
• Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 1066/1333/1600*/2133*(OC) DRAM, 32GB Max
- Supports 1GB/ 2GB/ 4GB/ 8GB DRAM size
- Supports Dual channel mode
• 3 PCI Express gen2 x16 slots
- PCI_E2 supports up to PCIE x16 speed when PCI_E4 is empty, or PCI_E2 will support up to PCIE x8 speed when PCI_E4 is installed
- PCI_E4 supports up to PCIE x8 speed
- PCI_E5 supports up to PCIE x4 speed (due to the limitation of the chipset, when the PCI_E5 has been installed with a PCIE x4 device, 2 eSATA ports, 2 onboard front USB 3.0 connectors, 2 PCI slots and 1 USB 3.0 rear IO port (the top USB 3.0 port at the side of audio jacks) will become unavailable.)
• 2 PCIE x1 slots
- When both of the PCIE x1 (PCI_E1, PCI_E3) slots have been installed, only the PCI_E1 slot is available, using one PCIE x1 slot is recommended.• 3 PCI Express gen2 x1 slots
• 2 32-bit v2.3 master PCI bus slots.
- Support 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface.
• SATAII controller integrated in Intel® P67 (B3) chipset
- Up to 3Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports four SATAII ports (SATA3~6) by P67 (B3) PCH
• SATAIII controller integrated in Intel® P67 (B3) chipset
- Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports two SATAIII ports (SATA1~2) by P67 (B3) PCH
- SATA1~6 ports support RAID 0/1/5/10 mode by Intel P67 (B3) PCH
• eSATAII controller integrated in Marvell® 88SE9128 chipset
- Supports two eSATA ports (back panel)
- Supports RAID 0/1 mode
• 1 USB 3.0 internal connectors by NEC® D720200
• 1 USB 3.0 internal connectors by NEC® D720200 to VIA® VL810 hub
• 2 USB 3.0 rear I/O ports by NEC® D720200
• 4 USB 3.0 rear I/O ports by NEC® D720200 to VIA® VL810 hub
• Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC892
- Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
- Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
- Meet Microsoft Vista Premium spec
• Supports two PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Realtek 8111E.
IEEE1394 / FireWire
• VIA® VT6308P chipset
- Supports up to two 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, pinheader x1)
- Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps.
Internal I/O Connectors
- ATX 24-Pin power connector
- 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 6-pin ATX 12V VGA connector
- CPU x 1 / System x 4 FAN connectors
- CD-in connector
- Front panel audio connector
- Front panel connector
- 1 x chasis intrusion connector
- 3 x USB 2.0 connectors
- 2 x USB 3.0 connectors
- 4 x Serial ATAII connectors
- 2 x Serial ATAIII connectors
- 1 x IEEE1394 connector
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x SPDIF-out connector
- 1 x TPM module connector
- 1 x Voltage Check Point
- 1 x Power button
- 1 x Reset button
Back Panel I/O Ports
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Coaxial SPDIF port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF port
- 1 x IEEE1394 port
- 2 x eSATA ports
- 2 x RJ45 LAN Jacks
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
• The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS, which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
• 30.5cm(L) x 24.4cm(W) ATX Form Factor
• 9 mounting holes
The front panel of the P67A-GD80's retail packaging is absolutely stunning and showcase's the motherboard's military-class components and OC Genie II technology. It also has several case badges for other technologies the board supports like SLI, CrossfireX, and Windows 7 to name a few.
The front panel flips open to unveil another two panels that go into more detail about the P67A-GD80's power features, USB 3.0/SATA 6GB/s support, and its new graphical BIOS interface dubbed "Click BIOS". They also have a large diagram outlining some of the other key features available with this motherboard like three PCIe x16 slots, multiple BIOS chips, and a Super Charger USB header to charge USB devices like an iPod.
The back panel includes more information about the board's military-class power components and other third-party software applications that are bundled with the board like Instant OC, Super Charger, and Winki3.
My first impression of the P67A-GD80 right out of the box is a very positive one. I really like how well this board is organized and includes the right blend of support new and legacy technologies to really appeal to a wide range of consumers. MSI aligned the USB 2.0/3.0 headers, firewire headers, and power, reset, and OCGenie II buttons along the bottom of the motherboard. This configuration makes them more accessible to users who like to keep the side panel open on their PC cases so they can tweak their PCs easier.
The back of the PCB is pretty standard as usual with a small aluminum backplate behind the CPU socket. Nothing else stands out here.
The back I/O panel includes a plethora of features like six USB 3.0 ports, PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, clear CMOS button, coaxial SPDIF port, optical SPDIF port, firewire port, two eSATA ports, two Gigabit LAN jacks, four USB 2.0 ports, and audio/mic jacks. This is one of the most comprehensive set of options in an I/O panel I've seen in some time.
The P67A-GD80 includes three PCI x16 slots that run 8x8 in with dual graphics cards and 8x8x4 with three graphics cards installed and running in SLI or CrossfireX configurations. They also added two legacy PCI slots and two PCIe x1 slots to support additional add-on cards.
MSI also included an OC Genie II button right on the PCB so users can essentially overclock their PCs by pushing this button. In fact, MSI has seen a 20 percent increase in performance using OC Genie II versus Intel's Turbo Boost with an Intel Core i7-2600k.
We were slightly disappointed to see only two SATA 6GB/s ports and four SATA 3GB/s ports that are managed by the P67 chipset. All six ports can be used in AHCI/RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 via Intel's Matrix Storage technology.
A trend we've been seeing with high-end motherboards of late is adding voltage checkpoints like the ones above. MSI added seven checkpoints to monitor CPU, chipset, and system memory voltages. Monitoring these voltages is essential for hardcore overclockers looking to squeeze every megahertz of performance from their PC systems.
Like most P67 motherboards, the P67A-GD80 supports up to 32GBs of dual-channel DDR3 2133 (OC), 1600, 1333, 1066 system memory via four DIMMs. With system memory prices taking a dive in 2011, many users are enjoying 6, 8, 12, and even 16GBs of DDR3 memory on their performance workstations.
The real estate around the CPU socket is packed with a variety of power components like Highly-Conductive Polymerized Capacitors (Hi-C CAPs) and Super Ferrite Chokes that use iron core material. These components operate at low temperatures nad help provide stable power during overclocking.
MSI put a lot of effort into the accessories, manuals, and third-party software they bundled with the P67A-GD80. One nifty feature they included was a PCI bracket that adds two additional USB 3.0 ports to the back of a user's system. Who can't use more USB 3.0 ports?
They also threw in four SATA cables, two molex to SATA power connectors, and an SLI bridge.
Here's a quick shot of the I/O backplate. It's completely black and every port is well organized and labeled.
I'm not sure if MSI will include this in the retail versions of this motherboard, but we received a detailed overclocking guide and performance reference table that shows the results of many benchmarks MSI tech analysts performance in-house on the motherboard. This might be something only given to hardware reviewers, but it was an excellent resource and helped me gauge how well the P67A-GD80 would performance in different applications.
Here's a quick shot of the detailed performance reference table that was completed by one of MSI's tech analysts. The results are hand-printed and signed by the tech analyst.
To go along with the bounty of accessories, MSI included a detailed user guide and software application guide that explains all the key features on the motherboard as well as how to use all the third-party applications that were bundled with the P67A-GD80.
Lastly, they included a driver and utilities DVD and a quick installation guide. Overall, this is an excellent bundle and makes the $229 price tag a little more barable in the tough economic times most people are facing these days.