The MSI Z68A-GD65 G3 has next generation features and a price to match
LGA1155, ATX, Intel Z68 Express chipset, supports: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)
MSI’s Z68A-GD65 is an LGA1155 motherboard that’s about as future-proof as it’s possible to get. Thanks to its two third-generation PCI-Express x16 slots, it should even be able to handle the latest graphics cards at their full bandwidth.
Three PCI-Express x1 slots and two PCI slots complete the quota of expansion ports. A dual-slot graphics card will block one PCI-E x1 slot, and two in SLI or Crossfire will obscure one PCI slot. The board supports SATA3, having four side-facing ports next to four older SATA2 ones. Its four RAM slots can hold up to 32GB of memory; DDR3 1333 is supported natively, but faster modules require overclocking.
There are two USB3 ports on the back panel, as well as four regular USB ports. MSI has included a USB3 front panel that connects to the single motherboard header should your case not have the right I/O ports, but most cases should be able to use the three USB2 headers. Integrated graphics users can choose from plenty of video outputs, because VGA, HDMI and DVI ports can all be found on the rear I/O panel, along with six 3.5mm audio jacks, and optical and composite digital outputs.
Overclockers will appreciate the user-friendly UEFI BIOS, which has plenty of options for tweaking voltages and memory timings, in addition to CPU clock speed. A clear CMOS button is also within easy reach on the back I/O panel.
If you’re going to buy a Z68 motherboard now, it makes sense to pick one with next generation features. The Z68A-GD65 isn’t the cheapest board around, but it has all the features you’d want. However, you could save money by opting for the Asus P8Z68-V LX, which doesn’t have third-generation PCI-E but is still excellent value for money.
|Processor support||Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)|
|Processor external bus||200MHz (DMI)|
|Chipset north bridge||Intel Z68 Express|
|Chipset south bridge||Intel Z68 Express|
|Supported memory type||DDR3 1066/1333/1600(OC)/2133(OC)|
|Maximum memory speed||PC3-17000|
|Power connectors||1x 24-pin ATX, 1×8-pin ATX|
|PCI-E x16 slots||2|
|Dual graphics architecture||SLI, CrossFireX|
|PCI-E x4 slots||0|
|PCI-E x1 slots||3|
|Serial ATA ports||8|
|RAID chipset (max disks)||Intel Z68 Express (RAID 0, 1, 10, 5)|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Sound (ports)||Realtek ALC892 (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF, coaxial S/PDIF)|
|USB2 ports / headers||4/3|
|Firewire ports / headers||0/0|
|Legacy ports||1x PS/2|
|Other ports||2x USB3, 2x SATA3, HDMI, DVI, VGA|
|Cables included||4x SATA, 1x Molex to SATA power, 1x SLI|
|Brackets included||1x USB3|
|Software included||Norton Internet Security 2011|
Setup and Overclocking
|CPU clock max adjustment||1,000MHz|