As mentioned earlier, the P67A-GD80 is the next step above the GD65 that we looked at a few months ago. At first glance you might not really notice much difference but when you compare the two side by side, the differences are obvious.
Both boards share MSI's blue and black color scheme which is one of my favorite. It's pretty similar to what we saw on the ASUS P8P67 EVO except that MSI uses a darker blue rather than the light powder blue that ASUS went with.
Looking at the top of the board we find two passive heatsinks connected by a heatpipe covering the MOSFETS as well as the 8-pin 12v connector. The heatsinks are very similar to the GD65, although these seem to feature more visible fins. Also different is the number of Hi-c CAP (Highly-conductive polymerized capacitor) featuring Tantalum Core found around the CPU socket. This board uses a 12-Phase DrMOS Digital VRM which is double what we saw on the GD65 that featured a 6+2 phase power design. MSI claims that Hi-c CAP last 8x longer than traditional capacitors and result in better overall cooling due to their lower profile.
Hi-c CAP is part MSI's Military Class II components that also include Super Ferrite Chokes and Solid Caps with a 10 year lifetime. SFCs feature 30% higher current capacity and 10% power efficiency improvement which should result in better overclocking power stability. The Super Ferrite Chokes were previously only available on flagship models but now MSI has implemented them on every Sandy Bridge offering. Solid Capacitors are used on other areas of the board where such stringent power efficiency isn't necessary.
Much like on the GD65, we find the Active Phase Switching LEDs lined across the top of the board. There are 12 total blue LEDs corresponding with the 12-phase power system. This feature can be disabled if you aren't into extra LED lighting.
Other features include a 4-pin CPU fan header, four memory slots supporting DDR3 1066/1333/1600/2133(OC) DRAM at a max capacity of 32GB in dual channel mode, three 3-pin fan headers, a 6-pin VGA connector, the 24-pin ATX connector and MSI's Voltage Check Point. Using the included VCP cables, you can easily measure the current CPU core / CPU IO / CPU SA / DDR / PCH voltages in real-time using a multimeter.
More just ahead.