It is great to see B3-stepping motherboards shipping and available for purchase. This puts Sandy Bridge back on track and makes it a viable option for gamers and enthusiasts who are looking to upgrade.
I would call this board a second revision Sandy Bridge board from MSI as they have improved on many features over the previously reviewed P67A-GD55 board. The most note-able feature would have to be the move from a 6-phase power design to a full 12-phase design. This not only brings more stability to your system but also will help out a lot with overclocking. The other big improvement is the 3 PCI-E slots instead of 2 on the P67A-GD55. Gamers and enthusiasts alike with definitely appreciate that.
Talking about overclocking, overclocking with the P67A-GB80 was extremely easy. All of the overclocking settings are in one place and easy to find in the BIOS. You can even save overclocking profiles, which is added bonus. I was able to achieve a stable overclock of 4.4GHz, which is a 1.1GHz overclock from the stock 3.3GHz of the Core i5-2500K. If you are a little intimidated by the BIOS you can use the Control Center II application to overclock the system in Windows. You don’t even need to restart the system to change the settings, they are all done in real time. If you don’t know anything about overclocking the OC Genie II feature is perfect. All you do is press in the OC Genie button on the motherboard and restart your computer and it will be instantly overclocked. It overclocked our Core i5-2500K to 4.2GHz!
I think one of the main things that sets MSI motherboards apart from others is the Military Class II components. This includes the 12-phase SFC (Super Ferrite Choke) choke setup. MSI says this design provides 30% better efficiency than standard chokes. Hi-c CAP’s (Highly-conductive polymerized capacitor) which provide an 8x longer lifetime than traditional Solid CAP. Finally the Solid CAP design which has a claimed lifetime of 10 years. MSI offers these same features on their video cards now as well. Another great feature on this motherboard is the power and reset button being on the board itself. This is great for people who are testing and just makes things easier.
The overall design of this board is good. Everything is nicely organized and nothing really seems cramped. The PCI-E slots are spaced out so you can fit 3 video cards in nicely, although we were not able to test this, I assume with the spacing 3 cards would fit just perfect. The Voltage Checkpoint is something new on this board and is easily accessible on the side of the board. The SATA ports are color-coded and faced towards the side of the board which makes installation and cable management easy. All of the heatsinks on the board are just the right size and are not overly large. This makes installing your CPU cooler and other components easy. The only real issue I found was that the DDR slots were pretty close to the CPU socket so if you want to install memory with large heatspreaders you might have some clearance issues with your CPU cooler. MSI does a great job with the styling on this board. The blackish-brown PCB with the black and blue accents on the components make it a very attractive board. The logo’s on the heatsinks look good, but are not overwhelming.
The ClickBIOS on this motherboard one of my favorite things. Even if you are used to going through the old style BIOS’s the ClickBIOS is so much easier to navigate. Everything is easy to find and it even provides some great utilities. It is also nice to be able to use your mouse in the BIOS. This is makes it easier for people who maybe need to adjust something in the BIOS, but have never even seen a BIOS before.
Right now the P67A-GD80 sells for $229.99 at my favorite online retailer, which puts it within a $40 price range up or down with competing motherboards. For gamers and enthusiasts I think that this board has everything that you would want and the quality and design of the board is great. Overall ThinkComputers gives the MSI P67A-GD80 (B3) Intel P67 Motherboard a 10 out of 10 score and our Editor’s Choice Award!
– Many improvements over previous boards (P67-GD55, P67GD60)
– 12-phase power design
– Military Class II components
– OC Genie II feature
– USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s
– Great layout and design
– DDR slots are close the CPU socket (same on many P67 motherboards)