MSI has always proved to be a strong contender and the Z68A-GD80 B3 is no exception. The new chipset opens up not just performance gains but also added usability features as well. The introduction of Lucid's Virtu is a welcome one. The software is still new and the minor issues we had with it work to illustrate its immaturity.
The Z68A-GD80 did its job to best the P67 based Intel DP67BG, however it did so by small margins. The Z68A is more of an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one providing added performance but in moderate amounts. For current owners of P67 class motherboards we cannot say that the Z68 is a necessary upgrade. Most performance increases will only be apparent in benchmarks and not perceptible in day-to-day usage. The same holds true for Lucid's Virtu. The software is impressive, however the benefits it provides are primarily relegated to niche user scenarios with the largest benefits being provided to media transcoding enthusiasts and power-conscious users.
Throughout our tests the Z68A-GD80 B3 was as stable as could be. With the exception of the issue we face with the OC Genie there were no surprise crashes or other errata that are sometimes associated with enthusiast class boards. Manual overclocking features are plentiful enough to meet the needs of novice and experienced performance enthusiasts alike.
According to MSI, the street price of the Z68A-GD80 B3 will be around $239USD which has it landing somewhere in the middle of current Z68 chipset motherboard offerings. The Z68A offers some strong features for a board in its price range, and the flexibility to support either SLI or CrossFire means you wont be tied to either technology should your preferences change down the road. If you are in the market for a stable, overclockable motherboard with some and are sick of wasting time with slow video transcoding then the MSI Z68A-GD80 B3 definitely deserves a look.
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