MSI Z77A-GD65 - Overview

Whenever it comes to a motherboard comparison involving ASUS, Gigabyte or ASRock against an MSI board, the MSI board always tends to show a strong result - either in terms of price, performance or features.  Therefore, when it comes to the new batch of motherboards for Ivy Bridge, it is fair to say that I expect a strong showing from MSI.  Today, we have their Z77A-GD65, which will be one behind their future released GD80 that got attention back at CES for being Thunderbolt equipped.

The Z77A-GD65 currently retails at $190, a good amount above the Gigabyte board.  With the MSI, we have an Intel NIC, a full set of audio outputs, but no PCI or mSATA.  The Z77A-GD65 is in general a good board to play with.  It would underpin any Z77 build with ease.  The design is beneficial to multi-GPU setups, offers voltage read points of overclockers, and gives a front facing USB 3.0 port for front panel USB 3.0 cases.  The auto-overclocking OC Genie is relatively simple, but using the BIOS is straightforward (either at boot time or in the OS with Click BIOS software) to get something more befitting an Ivy Bridge processor.

Due to some of the other boards providing an overclock out-of-the-box, performance on the MSI may seem to be a little down on the other boards, but by enabling OC Genie on board, which every processor should be able to do, performance numbers would be comparable to the competition.

Visual Inspection

The Z77A-GD65 is another motherboard in this roundup that comes in a black and blue livery.  This time MSI have more of an excuse than others do as they have been using it for a fair while now.  Using what is essentially a 10 + 2 phase power delivery, MSI are using somewhat beefier heatsinks than their rivals, connecting both via a heatpipe.  The socket area is right up against Intel's minimum requirements from left to right, but there is some room to maneuver big air coolers from top to bottom.  Around the socket there are at least four fan headers to use: one 4-pin CPU header between the top VRM and the memory slots, a 4-pin system fan header just the other side of the memory slots, a 4-pin to the bottom left of the socket area, and another 4-pin beside the 24-pin ATX power connector.   A fifth fan header can be found at the bottom of the board.

Along the right hand side, we have the standard MSI trio of power/reset/OC Genie buttons, followed by a series of voltage checkpoints for overclockers.  Aside from the 24-pin power connector and the system fan header, there is also a USB 3.0 header at right angles to the board, indicating its primary use is to the front of the case.  Underneath this are the eight SATA ports - two SATA 6 Gbps from the PCH, four SATA 6 Gbps also from the PCH, and another two SATA 6 Gbps from an ASMedia controller.

As the power/reset/OC Genie buttons are at the top right, the bottom of the board has more room to fit in all the headers as needed - front panel audio, TPM, front panel headers and USB 2.0 headers.  In terms of PCIe, MSI have done away with the PCIe to PCI bridge and focused purely on PCIe.  We have an x1, x16 (x8 with dual GPU), x1, x1, x8, x1, and a PCIe 2.0 x4.  In this instance, there is plenty of room for a dual GPU setup with PCIe slots to spare for any extras.

Also of note is the chipset cooler, which is very flat and large with minimal fins, perhaps suggesting that MSI is confident about their heatsink design.  Underneath this is a two digit debug display, and a BIOS switch for changing between two BIOSes.

On the rear IO panel, I think MSI have been reasonable with what they have left in and what they have left out.  From left to right, we have a combination PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports (black), a clear CMOS button, digital and coaxial SPDIF outputs, two more USB 2.0 ports (black), a HDMI port, gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0 ports (blue), D-Sub, DVI-D, and audio jacks.

Board Features

MSI Z77A-GD65
Price Link
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-1155
Chipset Intel Z77
Power Delivery (CPU/iGPU) 8 + 1 + 2 + 1 (VRM/VTT/GPU/SA)
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1066-2667 MHz
Video Outputs HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
Onboard LAN Intel 82579V
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC898
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe x16 Gen3 (x16, x8/8)
1 x PCIe x16 Gen2 (x4)
4 x PCIe x1 Gen2
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
2 x SATA 6 Gbps (ASMedia ASM1061)
USB 4 USB 3.0 ports (2 back panel, 2 from headers)
10 USB 2.0 ports (4 back panel, 6 from headers)
Onboard 4 x SATA 6Gbps
4 x SATA 3 Gbps
1 x USB 3.0 Header
3 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x IEEE1394 Header
1 x TPM Header
1 x Front Panel Audio Header
Power/Reset Buttons
OC Genie
5 x Fan Headers
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX connector
1 x 8-pin 12V connector
Fan Headers 1 x CPU Fan Header (4-pin)
4 x SYS Fan Headers (two 4-pin, two 3-pin)
IO Panel 1 x Combo PS/2 Port
1 x Clear CMOS Button
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Port
1 x Optical S/PDIF Port
4 x USB 2.0
2 x USB 3.0
1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Jacks
1 x HDMI
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link

It is good to see an Intel NIC on this motherboard and plenty of headers to go around.  The only things missing where other motherboards may have better all-round functionality are a PCI slot, mSATA or on-board WiFi.

 

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H - In The Box, Overclocking MSI Z77A-GD65 - BIOS and Software
POST A COMMENT

117 Comments

View All Comments

  • SnowKing - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    I think you are confusing bits per second vs. bytes per second. Do not be alarmed, that is the gimmick of Ethernet.

    10 mbps (megabits per second) = 1.25 MBps (megabytes per second)
    100 mbps (megabits per second) = 12.5 MBps (megabytes per second)
    1 gbps (gigabits per second) = 125 MBps (megabytes per second)

    If you want 1 GBps, you will need an 8 gbps connector i.e. (10gbps nic)...and good luck with that.

    Unit Converter
    http://www.numion.com/calculators/units.html
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    theSeb's (and originally adrien's) point here is that the chart for LAN speeds erroneously list MBps instead of Mbps. Reply
  • HollyDOL - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    Transfer speed is always measured in bps (bits per second).
    Latin prefixes for kilo-Mega-Giga etc. signify 10^3,10^6 etc. bits

    Capacity volume is always measured in B (bytes).
    Latin prefixes for kilo-Mega-Giga etc. signify 2^10, 2^20 etc. Bytes (ie. 1kB = 1024 Bytes) according to old school rules.
    According to new customs kilo-Mega-Giga signify 10^3,10^6 etc. Bytes, prefixes kB, MB, GB, while alternate prefixes kiB,MiB,GiB signify 2^10,2^20... Bytes. Data storage capacity uses new style kB,MB,GB,TB for long years since it makes their drives look bigger, while on hardware and OS level you are much more likely to see units based on power of two since it is much more natural for binary computer.

    Basically 10Mbps = 1.25MB/s is completely wrong... 10Mbps = 10,000,000bps = 1,250,000 B/s = 1.192 MB/s

    1TB (new style or storage device manufacturers) = 931,32GiB
    Reply
  • Schafdog - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    What is draw of power from GPUs? Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    The 7970s should Idle at approx 3W or less each. Reply
  • gorg_graggel - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    the current asus lineup seems to have problems with memory configs that consist of 8GB dimms...
    their list of supported memory modules seems to be made for multiple boards...it contains configurations for e.g. 6x4gb for boards that have only 4 slots...so i guess it`s not only a problem with my board...

    i got myself a sabertooth z77 and a pair of corsair 1600mhz 8gb dimms. no matter how conservative i set the timings the board won`t boot at 1600mhz and freeze after some time at 1333mhz (spd or xmp don`t work either). i can only get them stable at 1066mhz. a single dimm runs fine at the specified clocks and timings.

    could you spare some time and test the boards with a 1600mhz config with 2 8gb dimms? or even with 4 of those? no underclocking of higher specced dimms, as there is a 2x8gb@1866mhz config in the list...
    would be interesting to know if all those boards had problems with ivy brigde`s max specified dram clocks...

    i guess it will be fixed in a future bios update, but maybe beeing pointed out by a respected site, they are gonna hurry it up a bit...i mean c`mon 1600mhz rams at 1066mhz? seriously...
    Reply
  • gorg_graggel - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    so, i got myself another pair of 8gb dimms...
    g.skill ripjaws 1600mhz, cl10...

    those worked from the get go...also not on ovl list...

    the latest bios (1015) made the corsair dimms work better @1333mhz (no more freezing), but still no 1600 (for which they are specified)...

    so if you plan to get 8gb 1600mhz dimms for your asus board, steer clear from corsair vengeance low profile dimms...at least until the bios has matured some more...
    Reply
  • Luay - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    The $225 Asus V Pro has the Realtek ALC892 audio chipset while the $148 Asrock Extreme4 has the 898! Not everyone wants or can install a sound card so what are they thinking?

    GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB Has wireless, 898 audio chip and a third PCI-E 3.0 slot for $219. That's a good reason to pay an extra $70 over the Asrock Extreme4 as I don't really care about auto-over-clocking.

    Only Asrock at budget and Gigabyte at mid-end are in it to win it. Not enough high-end boards to tell who won there.

    I am shocked by what Asus put on the table but I might be missing something here.
    Reply
  • blacksun1234 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Gigabyte's third PCI-E 3.0 slot cannot work if CPU BCLK OC only 1MHz to 101MHz. It is buggy M/B. Don't buy it. Reply
  • blacksun1234 - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    I mean GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB . GA-Z77X-UD3H is Ok for 3rd PCI-E 2.0. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now