z77a gd80 1 MSI first to show Thunderbolt equipped motherboard at CeBIT

Back at CES the first pictures of MSI's Z77A-GD80 motherboard made an appearance, a board that was said to feature Thunderbolt connectivity, but back then MSI hadn't actually implemented it. Fast forward three months and the company is now showing off the final board with the actual hardware fitted to the board.

Back at CES the first pictures of MSI's Z77A-GD80 motherboard made an appearance, a board that was said to feature Thunderbolt connectivity, but back then MSI hadn't actually implemented it. Fast forward three months and the company is now showing off the final board with the actual hardware fitted to the board.

z77a gd80 1 MSI first to show Thunderbolt equipped motherboard at CeBIT

The actual Thunderbolt chip – which MSI wouldn't tell us anything about – is located just below the MOSFET heatsink and it wasn't that easy to get a good shot of it. What we should be looking at here is Intel's yet to be announced Cactus Ridge chipset, most likely the L3310 model. The Thunderbolt/mini DisplayPort connector is also present on the board now, just below the antiquated D-sub connector that everyone keeps on insisting to add to their boards.

z77a gd80 2 MSI first to show Thunderbolt equipped motherboard at CeBIT

A quick overview of the Z77A-GD80 motherboard  includes three x16 PCI Express 3.0 slots, as MSI has gone for the rather unusual – but completely Intel approved – option of doing dual x8 or x8, x4 x4 for CrossFire X setups. There are also four x1 PCI Express slots, the standard Intel SATA ports plus two SATA 6Gbps ports, a front USB 3.0 header, a FireWire header, Voltage measuring points, a POST80 debug LED, a manual BIOS swtich and power, reset and OC Genie buttons.

z77a gd80 3 MSI first to show Thunderbolt equipped motherboard at CeBIT

At the rear we have a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, a mere two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1-channel audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF out and of course the aforementioned Thunderbolt and D-sub connectors as well as an HDMI port. That about wraps it up for the Z77A-GD80, but we did also sneak a peek at MSI's GUS II or Graphics Upgrade Solution II, MSI's first Thunderbolt accessory.

gus II MSI first to show Thunderbolt equipped motherboard at CeBIT

The GUS II should be sporting the same L3310 Thunderbolt controller as the Z77A-GD80 motherboard, but in this instance MSI had fitted a heatsink to the Thunderbolt chip which seems somewhat odd as the one on the motherboard didn't have one. The GUS II will apparently ship with one of MSI's R6770 Twin Frozr II cards as standard, but will potentially be available with an Radeon HD 6850 or a GeForce GTX 550Ti card as an option, as the GUS II is limited to sub 150W cards. At least for the time being, MSI doesn't have any laptops with Thunderbolt, so we're not entirely sure who MSI is targeting the GUS II towards.