MSI Z77A-GD80 Motherboard Review
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MSI has always been at the forefront when it comes to innovation and today we are able to test one of their motherboards with the latest connection standard on the market. We are of course talking Thunderbolt, which other than a handful of motherboards is currently only being used on Apple products. The reason behind this is Apple was one of the co-creators of Thunderbolt, so it makes sense they would be the first to use the technology.
So, what is Thunderbolt? At its most basic it is a connection standard that is based on the DisplayPort interface that supports both data and video transfers at rates of up to 10Gbps. Of course once we look a little below the surface the technology really becomes more interesting. First off Thunderbolt is not only faster than USB 3.0 and FireWire 800, but it also has the ability to daisy-chain up to six devices via a single connection.
This means that a monitor can be connected to a Thunderbolt port along with five external storage devices, or any other peripherals that support the Thunderbolt interface. Additionally, since Thunderbolt adheres the DisplayPort standard is capable of supporting video of up to 2560x1600 pixels at a million colors, and it also can support up to 8-channels or audio. The motherboard MSI decided to use this new technology on is the Z77A-GD80, which is the older sibling of the Z77A-GD65. Both boards utilizes many of the same features sans Thunderbolt, meaning the GD80 comes with all the signature MSI components such as a Military Class III VRM design, on-board overclocking features and a sleek design.
All of which are used in conjunction with supported features of the Z77 platform such as native support of USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps and 22nm processors. Of course with all the supported features and a new technology the MSI Z77A-GD80 doesn’t come cheap, but at $259 it is comparable to other motherboards using the Thunderbolt interface.