Joining the Intel Z68 club is MSI's Z68A-GD80. We take a peek at the features with which MSI hopes to make its board stand out from the rest. (Updated with BIOS pictures & SSD caching preview!)

Several of the MSI Z68A-GD80's features are prominently advertised on its box, including of course the assurance that you are getting the trouble-free stepping of the chipset.

The Z68 PCH is passively cooled, which should come as no surprise given that the TDPs of Intel's recent chipsets have all come in under 10 watts. The CPU power delivery system, on the other hand, gets a more elaborate cooling solution.

The MSI Z68A-GD80 provides 12-phase power to the CPU using MSI's DrMOS system. DrMOS uses integrated circuits that combine the MOSFET and its driver into a single chip, which MSI claims achieves 96% efficiency. By reducing the number of phases active when the system is not under load, power consumption can also be reduced. The number of active phases is indicated by a row of LEDs along the top edge of the motherboard.

The memory and chipset each get 2-phase power. There is also an additional PCIe 6-pin power connector, which MSI claims will improve the overclocking capabilities of installed graphics cards.

Next, we'll be looking at the onboard features and expansion options offered by this motherboard.

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