MSI Z77A-GD80 with Thunderbolt Motherboard Review
Thunderbolt Performance Testing
To test the Thunderbolt implementation on this board, we used our trusty Pegasus R4 external RAID enclosure. Being one of the only Thunderbolt RAID devices gives the R4 the distinct advantage of being one of the few ways you can really stretch the 10 Gbit link.
In order to find the peak of MSI and Intel’s implementation, we loaded 4x120gb Corsair Force 3 GT SSDs into our R4, in a RAID 0 configuration. While obviously most users won’t want to run their RAID in a non redundant format such as RAID 0, it provides the maximum throughput, which is vital to our testing.
As we can see in our comparison testing to the P8Z77-V Premium, the results seem to fall in line with what we expect. It is obvious that both ASUS and MSI put a lot of effort into their respective Thunderbolt implementations, and they are getting the maximum throughput possible.
Another test which I performed involved using the Pegasus R4 and the DisplayPort output from the GD80. Using the R4 as a Thunderbolt passthrough, we managed to hook the R4 directly up to the GD80, and then an active Mini DisplayPort to DVI converter up to our Dell 30” display.
Using Lucid’s Virtu GPU virtualization, we used the NVIDIA GTX 560 Ti installed in the system through this Thunderbolt chain, and ran 3DMark 11. At the same time, we started a test using ATTO on the R4. When both tests were complete, we saw no deviation from our expected results, proving that using the DisplayPort connection and Thunderbolt at the same time is a perfectly fine idea. It was also pretty mind blowing that one port was transferring all of that data at once, even in a daisy chained situation. Demonstrations like this lead me to believe that Thunderbolt could have a successful future.
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