thumbnail Z68 Showdown: Gigabyte GA Z68X UD7 B3 Versus MSI Z68A GD80

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.

IMG 7363 Z68 Showdown: Gigabyte GA Z68X UD7 B3 Versus MSI Z68A GD80

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.

IMG 7144 2 Z68 Showdown: Gigabyte GA Z68X UD7 B3 Versus MSI Z68A GD80

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)