In this showdown, Gigabyte's Ultra Durable GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 takes on MSI's Military Class Z68A-GD80! Which Z68 motherboard is the better of the two? Read on to find out…

We previously looked at Z68's features and reviewed the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro. Today, we'll be adding two more Z68 motherboards into the mix.

The Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 and MSI Z68A-GD80 are their respective manufacturers' top-end Z68 motherboards at the moment. Despite this, the MSI board costs significantly less than Gigabyte's offering.

Looking at the specifications below, it's clear Gigabyte has loaded as many features as humanly possible onto the GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 to justify its pricetag. But is more always better? Or will the leaner MSI Z68A-GD80 provide better value at a lower price?

Specifications

  Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 ASUS P8Z68-V Pro MSI Z68A-GD80
CPU LGA 1155, 2nd Generation Intel Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 Processors LGA 1155, 2nd Generation Intel Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 Processors LGA 1155, 2nd Generation Intel Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 Processors
Chipset Intel Z68 Express (B3) Chipset
Nvidia NF200
Intel Z68 Express (B3) Chipset Intel Z68 Express (B3) Chipset
Memory 4 x DDR3 non-ECC, unbuffered DIMM sockets (max. 32GB)
Dual channel architecture
Supports DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
Supports Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
4 x DDR3 non-ECC, unbuffered DIMM sockets (max. 32GB)
Dual channel architecture
Supports DDR3 2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066MHz
Supports Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
4 x DDR3 non-ECC, unbuffered DIMM sockets (max. 32GB)
Dual channel architecture
Supports DDR3 1066/1333/1600*/2133*(OC) MHz
Audio Realtek ALC 889
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
Support for Dolby® Home Theater
Support for S/PDIF Out
Realtek ALC 892
Supports Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection 
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC 
Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
Realtek ALC 892
Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
Meet Microsoft Vista Premium spec
LAN 2 x Realtek RTL8111E (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Support for Teaming
Support for Smart Dual LAN
1 x Intel® 82579 Gigabit LAN Controller 2 x Realtek RTL8111E (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1, PCIEX8_2)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slot
2 x PCI slots
* The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot and the PCIEX8_2 slot with PCIEX16_2. The PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2 slot will operate at up to x8 mode when the PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2 is populated.
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
2 x PCIe x1
2 x PCI
* The PCIe x16_3 slot shares bandwidth with PCIe x1_1 slot, PCIe x1_2 slot, USB3_34 and eSATA. The PCIe x16_3 default setting is in x1 mode.
3 x PCIe 2.0 x16
2 x PCIe x1 slots
2 x PCI
*- PCI_E2 supports up to PCIE x16 speed when PCI_E4 is empty, or PCI_E2 will support up to PCIE x8 speed when PCI_E4 is installed
– PCI_E4 supports up to PCIE x8 speed
– PCI_E5 supports up to PCIE x4 speed (due to the limitation of the chipset, when the PCI_E5 has been installed with a PCIE x4 device, 1 eSATA ports, SATA7 port, 1 onboard front USB 3.0 connectors, 2 PCI slots and 1394 rear IO port will become unavailable.)
Multi-Graphics Technology AMD CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI AMD CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI AMD CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI
Storage Intel Z68
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
Supports RAID 0/1/5/10, Intel Smart Response Technology
2 x Marvell 88SE9128
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_6, GSATA3_7)
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors (eSATA/USB Combo) on the back panel
Supports RAID 0/1
Intel Z68
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
Supports RAID 0/1/5/10, Intel Smart Response Technology
Marvell PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller
2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports, navy blue
JMicron® JMB362 controller*
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port, red
*Supports data hard drives only. ATAPI devices are not supported.
Intel Z68
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
Supports RAID 0/1/5/10, Intel Smart Response Technology
Marvell 88SE9128
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port (1 internal, 1 eSATA on back panel)
USB Intel Z68
8 x USB 2.0 ports (4 on the back panel including 2 eSATA/USB Combo, 4 via internal header)
2 x Renesas D720200 controller and 2 x VLI VL810 hubs:
10 x USB 3.0 ports (6 on the back panel, 4 via internal header)
* The USB 2.0 signals of the 6 USB 3.0 ports on the back panel are from the Chipset.
Intel Z68
12 x USB 2.0 port(s) (6 at back panel, black+red, 6 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel Z68
10 x USB 2.0 (4 on back panel, 6 via internal header)
2 x NEC® D720200
2 x USB 3.0 via internal header
2 x USB 3.0 rear I/O ports
IEEE 1394 T.I. TSB43AB23
3 x IEEE 1394a ports (2 on the back panel, 1 via internal header)
VIA VT6308P
2 x IEEE 1394a ports (2 via internal header)
VIA VT6308P
2 x IEEE 1394a ports (1 on back panel, 1 via internal header)
Bluetooth Bluetooth V2.1+EDR
ASUS BT GO! Utility
Internal I/O Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
3 x system fan headers
1 x power fan header
1 x Chipset fan header
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 headers
1 x IEEE 1394a header
1 x clearing CMOS button
1 x power button
1 x reset button
6 x Audio Jack(s)
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s) (19-pin, moss green)
3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
2 x IEEE 1394a connector(s)
2 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
2 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (1 x 4 -pin, 1 x 3 -pin)
2 x Power Fan connector(s) (3 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out Header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x TPU switch(es)
1 x EPU switch(es)
ATX 24-Pin power connector
8-pin ATX 12V power connector 
6-pin ATX 12V VGA connector 
CPU x 1 / System x 4 FAN connectors
CD-in connector
Front panel audio connector
Front panel connector
1 x chasis intrusion connector
3 x USB 2.0 connectors
1 x USB 3.0 connectors
4 x Serial ATAII connectors
3 x Serial ATAIII connectors
1 x IEEE1394 connector
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x SPDIF-out connector
1 x TPM module connector
1 x Voltage Check Point
1 x Power button
1 x Reset button 
1 x OC Genie button
Back Panel Connectors 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
2 x IEEE 1394a ports
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
2 x eSATA/USB Combo connectors
2 x RJ-45 ports
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)
1 x Bluetooth module(s)
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 x USB 3.0
6 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
– 1 x Optical SPDIF port
– 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port
– 1 x Clear CMOS button
– 1 x IEEE1394 port
– 2 x RJ45 LAN Jacks
– 4 x USB 2.0 ports
– 1 x eSATA port
– 2 x USB 3.0 ports
– 1 x DVI-D port
– 1 x HDMI port
– 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
BIOS 2 x 32 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
64 Mb Flash ROM, EFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-language BIOS,
ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, F12 PrintScreen Function
The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
Bundle Software Norton Internet Security (OEM version) ASUS Utilities
ASUS Update
Anti-virus software (OEM version)
MSI Live Update
MSI OC Genie
Form Factor ATX Form Factor, 30.5cm x 24.4cm ATX Form Factor, 30.5cm x 24.4cm ATX Form Factor, 30.5cm x 24.4cm
Miscellaneous 1. Support for @BIOS
2. Support for Q-Flash
3. Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
4. Support for Download Center
5. Support for Xpress Install
6. Support for Xpress Recovery2
7. Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
8. Support for Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2
9. Support for Smart 6™
10. Support for Auto Green
11. Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
12. Support for ON/OFF Charge
13. Support for Cloud OC
14. Support for Q-Share
H/W Monitoring
1. System voltage detection
2. CPU/System temperature detection
3. CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
4. CPU overheating warning
5. CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
6. CPU/System fan speed control
* Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
ASUS Digital Power Design :
– Industry leading Digital 16 Phase Power Design
(12 -phase for CPU, 4 -phase for iGPU)
– ASUS DIGI+ VRM Utility
ASUS BT GO! :
– Folder Sync
– BT Transfer
– Shot & Send
– BT to Net
– Music Player
– Personal Manager
ASUS BT Turbo Remote :
– Exclusive Smartphone Interface supporting iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian systems
ASUS Exclusive Features :
– MemOK!
– AI Suite II
– AI Charger+
– Anti-Surge
– ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode featuring friendly graphics user interface
– Disk Unlocker
Overclocking Protection :
– ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM
ASUS TPU :
– Auto Tuning
– TurboV
– GPU Boost
– TPU switch
ASUS EPU :
– EPU
– EPU switch
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution
– Stylish Fanless Design Heat-sink solution
– ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ DIY :
– ASUS Q-Shield
– ASUS O.C. Tuner
– ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
– ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS Q-Design :
– ASUS Q-LED (CPU/DRAM/VGA/Boot Device LED)
– ASUS Q-Slot
– ASUS Q-DIMM
– ASUS Q-Connector
Accessories:
User Manual
ASUS Q-Shield
2 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s cable(s)
2 x Serial ATA 6.0Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x ASUS USB 3.0 Bracket(s)
 
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