Feature rich, performance filled.
The MSI Z77A-GD80 is the highest-end Z77 based motherboard available from MSI right now. While their Z77A-GD55 was a pretty decent board in itself, it doesn’t hurt to have some extra bells & whistles on a motherboard you’re planning to keep for a couple of years. What makes the Z77A-GD80 a standout product, though, is the addition of Thunderbolt.
The basics of the Z77A-GD80 are steeped in typical MSI features, such as Military Class III components so you can rest assured that at least overclocking won’t stress out the parts too much. Further proof of this comes from the onboard OC Genie II button, which allows a simple overclock at the press of a button. Our test Core i7-2600K for instance, boots from stock 3.4GHz straight up to 4.2GHz without me going into the BIOS or changing any settings. MSI takes care of it all. Obviously the rate of overclock depends on your processor.
Since the Z77A-GD80 was designed for Intel’s new Ivy Bridge processors, the Z77 chipset itself has a host of features that it brings along as well. The most obvious new addition that’s welcomed by every enthusiast is the 3rd generation PCI Express slot which literally provides twice the bandwidth capacity of PCIe Gen 2.0.
Of course, one of the key features introduced with Z77 was Virtu MVP, which not just switches between integrated graphics (on the CPU) and a discrete graphics card, but also uses the two in tandem to significantly improve gaming performance.
The packaging is solid from the outside, which includes a whole lot of documentation INSIDE. There’s a drivers disc, an SLI bridge, the rear I/O panel shield, six SATA cables and one bracket supporting two USB 3.0 ports.
For now, though, let’s have a closer look at the MSI Z77A-GD80.