MSI Z68A-GD65 G3 Motherboard
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Zahn Funk
Date: 08-26-2011
Provided by: MSI

Intel launched Sandy Bridge in early January at the Consumer Electronics Show but an issue with the P67 chipset sidelined motherboard production for several weeks. The chipset design error wasn't catastrophic by any means and likely wouldn't cause any issues for years to come, but it certainly needed to be corrected regardless. Board manufacturers worked with Intel to replace "bad" boards with those featuring the revised B3 chipset.

A few months later in May Intel launched an updated Sandy Bridge chipset called Z68 which essentially takes the best features of the P67 and H67 and combines them into one. With a Z68 board, users can overclock the CPU and use the integrated Intel HD graphics. Previously, if you wanted to overclock, you had to buy a P67 board and you had to use a discrete graphics card. If you wanted to use the integrated graphics, you needed an H67 board but then you couldn't overclock the CPU. In addition to these combined features, Z68 also introduces a new feature called Smart Response Technology (SRT) which uses a solid state drive to cache data from a traditional spinning hard drive. SRT essentially gives your hard drive an SSD-like speed boost while being able to retain the capacity and price benefits of cheaper hard drives.

Today we will be looking at our first Z68-based motherboard, the MSI Z68A-GD65 (G3). The GD65 is one of three new "G3" Z68 boards which indicates a new BIOS interface and PCI-e Gen 3 support.

The Z68A arrived in familiar blue and white MSI packaging with features listed on the front and reverse. One thing to note is that MSI is now offering a full 5 year warranty on both Z68A-GD65 (G3) and GD80 (G3) boards, contrary to the prominent 3 year sticker on the box. Early sample boards featured the 3 year sticker shown above but all current boxes have been updated with 5 year stickers.

Let's move ahead and take a closer look at the board specifications before unboxing.

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