MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Review

by Ian Cutress on 4/18/2013 12:00 PM EST
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  • jabber - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Yes a shame about those unwanted video ports. Just more unnecessary circuit traces on a very busy board. Reply
  • iamkyle - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    I'm still waiting for a manufacturer to come out with an E-ATX or XL-ATX motherboard that sacrifices the onboard junk - audio, LAN, etc and just gives me the bare essentials. Just give me USB ports and let me build the rest.

    With those motherboard form factors, there is PLENTY of room for 'enthusiasts' to use 3 or 4-way SLI or CF setups and STILL use a premium sound card or NIC of their choice. TRUE customizability, TRUE choice.
    Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Yes I've always wanted a motherboard that really strips away everything an enthusiast wouldn't want. I'm pretty sure with less crap on the board it would have less noise and the traces could be shortened and widened improving stability and OC potential. Reply
  • TaylorSandler - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online.(Click Home information)
    http://goo.gl/dkKvy
    Reply
  • dawp - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    why can't we flag spammers? Reply
  • whyso - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Why are POST times so long on desktop boards. For laptops its generally less than five seconds. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Because desktop boards typically include a bunch more extra hardware (USB chips, SATA chips, bigger BIOS, more memory modules etc.) and all that takes time to initialize. Laptop motherboards on the other hand are usually pretty bare bones utilizing only chipset features and not much more, the BIOS is also fairly locked down and offers only basic customization and the builder knows what will be included in the built so there is no need to search for a lot of stuff that might be installed, which shaves off even more time. Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Usually due to initialisation processes. I test POST with two GPUs under Win7, and each GPU adds some time. There's also more fan controllers, headers, ports, and all the stuff connected to the chipset that you don't get in a laptop, hence the big discrepancy in time. Death Angel covers it ^^^ Reply
  • TGressus - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    I've always liked the look of the Tantalum capacitors MSI uses. They should switch the remaining SMD caps out, blacken the silk screening, lead and solder.

    It would take extreme aesthetic to offset MSI BIOS. :(
    Reply
  • Quizzical - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    "gaming WiFi" is an oxymoron, so I don't think you can reasonably fault MSI for not including it.

    If the GD65 is the flagship of MSI's "gaming" line and the rest have numbers that normally correspond to MSI's lower end motherboards, then they may well be taking the approach of saying, let's include the stuff that gamers need and not so much else, rather than spending the money for worthless junk like a Thunderbolt port.

    There are plenty of people who want to build a gaming rig with a sub-$100 motherboard for budget reasons, though on such a budget, you're probably looking at an AMD CPU. A motherboard that offers everything that has a plausible gaming use and not much else could have a useful niche.

    -----

    The utility of a higher polling rate mouse has nothing to do with the frame rate. There's no good reason for a game engine to pretend that all inputs happened exactly when a new frame started. You process keyboard, mouse, and gamepad inputs as they come in, and if you don't start a new frame until 10 ms after you found out that a button was pressed, then that frame can show 10 ms worth of movement due to the button press.

    A higher polling rate does only take a few ms off of input latency. Windows default for USB devices is 125 Hz, which means average input latency of 4 ms (on average, you press a button halfway between the next time that the device will be polled and the previous time), and that trivially can't be reduced to less than 0 ms.
    Reply
  • hansmuff - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Good comment on the polling rate, marketing at its best. I do notice a difference between a 125 Hz rate and a 250 Hz rate in terms of smoothness of the desktop cursor when you move it, but any higher and I personally can't make out a difference.

    It should also be noted that polling with a higher frequency uses additional CPU cycles, since as the name implies USB is a polling interface.
    Reply
  • sherlockwing - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    My favorite part of the MSI Z77 board is the 90 degree USB3.0 header, it really helps hiding that huge usb3.0 header. Reply
  • boogerlad - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Is this motherboard a joke? Covering the fins is very stupid, and fins that are shaped merely for aesthetics is even worse. Are aesthetics more important than performance and practicality these days? Reply
  • mwildtech - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Bitch Bitch Bitch - Beat it! Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Dare you deny the dragon? Reply
  • Crono - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    I dare not. I actually was planning on doing a custom paint case, red and black, with the Dragon Army emblem from the new Ender's Game coming out in fall. The motherboard would fit well, though really even with a side panel no one looks that closely to see some of the theme details on a motherboard.

    "Your ass is dragon!"
    Reply
  • Sunstorm - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Hi Ian, I wanted to point out a piece of misinformation that MSI seem to be allowing various review sites to propagate. The board is not capable of 2X SLI (yes, standard two way) when the third PCI-E 3 slot is in use. I was told by MSI tech support that this is due to how the pcie lanes are provided for the third slot, which differs from the majority of other Z77 boards. This occurs even if the third slot is used for a soundcard ie you are not trying to do tri-SLI, SLI is simply disabled.

    Multiple reviews of the GD65 (and therefore presumably this gamer version) do not highlight this issue and presumably review sites aren't testing this. MSI seems content to allow this misinformation to be spread far and wide, which led to me buying the GD65 and finding it was not adequate for my needs several months after purchase. Thankfully the retailer accepted a return.

    Please update the review to reflect this, if reviewers are able to test this and publish it then maybe a few people will avoid the hassle I had
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Hi SunStorm,

    I am communicating with MSI directly on this to see what is up. Personally I feel there may be something wrong with the SLI certification flag. It probably confirms that the x8/x8 arrangement is SLI capable, but the x4 from the chipset is not, but there may be a bug that states if the x4 is populated, disable SLI completely. I am hoping to get a straight answer for you.

    Please note I would have tested it if I had access to three of the same NVIDIA GPU, but alas I do not :(
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Hi SunStorm. I got an answer, and it boils down to this.

    "In order to run SLI you need either a x16 slot running at @16 or @x8."

    So when the third slot is populated, it brings all slots down to x8/x4/x4. Because the second slot is x4, it fails SLI certification.

    If you have examples of SLI working in x4 mode *anywhere*, please email me (ian@anandtech.com) as this is rather interesting. If this is truly the case, it's an NVIDIA restriction, not an MSI one.

    Ideally if you want 2xSLI and an x4 sound card/RAID card, you need a board that does x8/x8 on PCIe slots and then takes the final x4 from the chipset, such as the Z77 OC Formula or Z77 Extreme6.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Sunstorm - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Thank you Ian, the fact that you took the time to take a look in to this is much appreciated. I have only found one forum post anywhere which highlighted this issue.

    Since most reviewers are stating that the MSI GD65 (and presumably related boards) is capable of tri-SLI I would imagine other people buying these boards may end up bitten down the line, even if they do their research by looking at reviews. I think in most people's case, given the price level, the fact that it is not tri-SLI capable is not a concern; however, the fact that ANY card in the third slot disables SLI is pretty important for people to be aware of, particularly as it is a behaviour not seen on most Z77 boards. As far as I am aware, the majority of Z77 boards take the lanes for the third slot from the chipset (as you describe), I've now switched to an ASUS v-pro for this reason.

    The only instances where I recall I may have seen SLI operating at 4x or lower are the tests of the impact of PCI-E bandwidth on graphics card performance. I'm not sure how those are conducted though.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    The x8/x8 + x4 vs. x8/x4/x4 difference will only showcase for those that need the PCIe slots, and I hope I have pointed this out in every review I have written. The x8 requirement for SLI will definitely feature in my future reviews, and I will be testing it on Haswell for you.

    After speaking with MSI, they *will* (because I'll hunt them down) be updating their website to make it more obvious to users. A lot of reviews will just go to the back end and copy/paste of the specifications rather than going through them like we try to do, to see where reality meets purpose. In recent months I have found a few glaring errors with both websites and manuals (!).

    Ian
    Reply
  • Sunstorm - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Many thanks Ian. The quality of the reviews here, as well as interactions like this between commentators and the authors are what really make you guys stand out as pretty much the best tech site out there, in my opinion. I'm glad that I have potentially flagged up this SLI issue that has not come up before. Reply
  • WeaselITB - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Wow, kudos on this. I'm not really in the market for a new motherboard (and I'm more of a ROG fan, anyway), but this sort of interaction is exactly why I keep reading Anandtech. Awesome.

    -Weasel
    Reply
  • just4U - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Realtek Sound?

    I noticed the SoundBlaster Cinema Sticker there yet it says Onboard sound is Realtek. Is it software emulation like what you see out of Asus? Or like Gigabyte's Killer series where it really is a SoundBlaster chip?
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Software Emulation; the Soundblaster Cinema software package is part of software stack, and enabled it by default. We had to disable it to run our RMAA audio tests properly as it interfered and raised an interchannel leakage error.

    Ian
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    Such a shame.. MSI, use the real thing ok? That goes double for you Asus. Doesn't have to be SoundBlaster either but come on these are supposed to be a step above. Reply
  • benbenkr - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Why did you guys not test DPC latency on this board?
    Seriously, DPC latency is like one of the -->MOST<-- important thing to test given how much BS software which comes with all the motherboards these days.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    DPC Latency is on page 6, under System Benchmarks (http://anandtech.com/show/6902/6). It's a quick test and there are people who want the info, so we are happy to provide the extra data point. Some boards fail this test spectacularly, so it's good to get onto the manufacturers to fix it. Reply
  • tech6 - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Just another cynical marketing attempt to extract more money from the gaming community. Raise the price, make it black, put some cool graphics on it a loud contrasting color and call it a day. Reply
  • Lucian2244 - Saturday, April 20, 2013 - link

    Isn't that how every business work? Reply
  • ZoeAnderson24 - Monday, April 22, 2013 - link

    before I saw the receipt for $6106, I did not believe that my friend actualy erning money in there spare time from there pretty old laptop.. there aunt has done this for only 17 months and at present paid the morgage on there villa and got themselves a Mazda. read more at, All29.comCHECK IT OUT Reply
  • geokilla - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    This motherboard ahs been on the market for a year and you say it's a new release...? Fail. Reply
  • geokilla - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    Oh I missed a section. Nvm Reply
  • pandemonium - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - link

    Maybe it's just me, but I was expecting a lot more gaming benchmarks for a gaming MoBo. Reply
  • deegee - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    Not bad features for the price, but as mentioned in the article not much more than a stock board.
    Thanks, but I will stick with my ASUS ROG components.
    Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    Glad I didn't swap my blue MSI Z77A-GD65 for the gaming version. Other than the NIC and the nice color scheme it doesn't have anything to warrant a swap. Reply
  • PCgamerblogspot - Sunday, December 22, 2013 - link

    I think you're being a little harsh on the board, MSI makes great boards and this one is no different. I own this board and although it not going to break any world records what it will do is provide a solid, stable, platform for you to build your PC off of. Its got good features and it's a (reasonably) good OC board. All in all I'm happy with it. Reply

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