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MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA1155 Motherboard E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by David Ramsey   
Saturday, 07 April 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA1155 Motherboard
Intel Z77 Express Chipset
Closer Look: MSI Z77 Motherboard
Z77A-GD65 Detailed Features
MSI ClickBIOS II and Control Center
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
PCMark Vantage Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
CPU-Dependent 3D Gaming
Media Encoding Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Blender and POV-Ray
Intel Native USB 3.0
Lucid Virtu MVP
Overclocking and Final Thoughts
MSI Z77A-GD65 Conclusion

Z77A-GD65 Overclocking

MSI is proud of their "OC Genie II" overclocking feature. By pressing down the latching "OC Genie" button on the motherboard (with the power off) and then booting, an instant, safe overclock is applied to the processor and memory. Pressing this button set the core multiplier on my i5-2500K to 42, selected the XMP profile in my memory, and bumped the CPU core voltage from 1.192 volts to 1.35 volts. This resulted in an average benchmark score improvement of 17.03%.

With manual overclocking, I settled on a multiplier of 48 with a VCore of 1.45 volts (as set in the BIOS).

msi_Z77a-gd65_overclock.jpg

As you can see from the benchmark results, this helped scores significantly. I noticed at this overclock that the CPU power phase LEDs spent most of their time maxed out, so it's obvious the Z77A-GD65's power circuitry is up to the task. The system would boot into Windows with a multiplier of 49 but would crash during benchmarks, even though CPU temperatures stayed well below the 80 degrees threshold. Given this I suspect I've run into the overclocking limit of my particular 2500K, but 4.8gHZ on all cores is still a pretty good overclock.

Z77 Express Final Thoughts

The MSI Z77A-GD65 motherboard is the first Z77 Express motherboard that Benchmark Reviews has tested. As such, it's impossible to compare its features and performance to other Z77 motherboards. Making things more complex is the fact that we do not have any "Intel third generation Core processors" to test with it, and these are the CPUs it was really designed for. For whatever reason, Z77 Express motherboards are becoming available weeks before we expect the new Intel CPUs, so we've no choice but to test with Sandy Bridge silicon.

We did have some problems with the MSI board: the initial review sample was delivered with a non-functional Ethernet port, and while the replacement board functioned perfectly throughout the testing regimen, a subsequent BIOS update seems to have disabled the Ethernet port again. MSI says the problem lies with a bug in the Intel-supplied DOS-based BIOS update utility and that the problem has since been fixed. In any case, it should not be an issue for users performing BIOS updates through the built-in update utility.

msi_Z77a-gd65_rot1.jpg

If you've looked at the performance scores turned in on the various benchmarks, you'll see that the MSI board was beaten by the ASUS Z68 board in every test, albeit only slightly. This is not unexpected for a motherboard based on a new chipset, since it always takes vendors some time to optimize their BIOSes for the new silicon. As MSI releases BIOS updates I expect the performance of this board will improve until it matches Z68 performance.

Taken on its own, the Z77A-GD65 is an appealing board. Although its price and model number would seem to make it an updated version of MSI's own Z68A-GD65 board, its feature set is more than competitive even with the $40-more-expensive MSI Z68A-GD80 I reviewed a few months ago. Compared to that board:

  • Z68 board has an extra PCI-E power connector near the first PCI-E slot to provide extra power
  • Z77 board has no PCI slots; Z68 board has two
  • Z77 board has four PWM fan headers; Z68 board has only one
  • Z77 board has two-digit POST code display
  • Z77 board has dual on-board BIOSes

At an MSRP of $189.99, the Z77A-GD65 is the same price as the Z68A-GD65, which also sells for about $189.99 on Newegg. It's $40 cheaper than the Z68A-GD80. Since this board uses a newer chipset with somewhat more functionality than the older one, there's little reason to buy a new Z68 system today.

The board benefits from MSI's mil-spec components, and while enthusiasts will appreciate features like the voltage test points, POST code readout, power phase LEDs, and the like, any user can benefit from the OC Genie II overclocking and native USB 3.0. I also applaud MSI's decision to eliminate PCI slots, which have really hung around longer than they should.

For gamers, Lucid Virtu MVP can boost the performance of any graphics card (although, sadly, there's still no support for SLI or CrossFireX) substantially in many games, while providing significant power savings in non-game usage.

Taken on its own, the Z77 Express chipset is somewhat disappointing: it doesn't provide any more PCI-E lanes than the Z68 Express, and like its predecessor, they're only PCI-E 2.0 instead of 3.0. The native USB 3.0 ports, slightly more versatile PCI-E lane allocation, and native support for the "Intel third generation Core processors" are really its only new features.



 

Comments 

 
# Mistaken Video Portshookems 2012-04-09 12:16
The third video port is an HDMI not Display Port. Otherwise great review.
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# RE: Mistaken Video PortDavid Ramsey 2012-04-09 13:12
Oh, good catch! I've edited the specifications to reflect this.
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# priceTHUMPer 2012-04-11 12:29
Price is now 169 on newegg.
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# RE: MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA1155 Motherboardwrong 2012-04-21 09:11
The board has PCI-E 3.0 not 2.0
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# RE: RE: MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA1155 MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2012-04-21 10:00
No, it doesn't. The Z77 express chipset provides eight PCI E2 .0 lanes. In the very near future it may be possible to install a processor that provides PCIE 3.0 lanes, but not as of the time of this review.
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# great & complete reviewdawgamerhybrid 2012-04-25 04:08
Thx for the great review, ive been "building" my ultimate hybrid system since before the z68 got released and i still didnt pull the trigger :). Would i merrit from waiting for another brand's (asus, gigabyte,...) z77 release to compare with the msi... or should i just pull that trigger allready, questions questions... The fact that it doesnt yet have native pci 3.0 kinda dissapoints me. Also i'm quite shure that after a few bios updates the z77 gd65 will perform above par in comparison to the z68a gd65 which allready had a ton of modifications.
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# RE: great & complete reviewDavid Ramsey 2012-04-25 07:23
No Z77 motherboard will ever have "native" PCI-E 3.0. The PCI-E 3.0 lines are provided by the Ivy Bridge CPU.
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# extra cashcolman 2012-09-25 09:11
is this mobo worth the extra cash u pay over the MSI Z77A-G45
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# HELP!!!Martin Rønning 2012-10-21 13:44
I have a problem!
I try OC but when Windows starts up, my computer just stops in the loading Screen for windows....
Same if i use OC-genie
And sometimes it appear a2 in right bottom corner on the screen (rest is black)
My computer specs:
I7-3770K Intel prosessor
MSI z77a-gd65 motherboard
H100 cpu cooling (corsair)
12GB ram Dominator GT / ram fan (corsair)
MSI hd r6800 series HAWK
And i got a H2Go case from MountainMods.com
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# RE: HELP!!!David Ramsey 2012-10-21 13:49
My only guess would be that your overclocked settings in OC Genie are too high. Try loading the defaults in the BIOS before using OC Genie, and then checking the "My OC Genie" page to make sure the settings are reasonable.
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# HELP!!!Martin Rønning 2012-10-21 23:09
Il test it when Im home.
Im crossing my fingers :P
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# PCIx16?Drnkbeer 2012-11-26 08:33
Now MSI is being sneaky and not informing people that they decide to put a second GFX in the 2nd PCI-E 3.0 port it would be reduced to 8x as would the original 16x. Which to me seems ridiculous. Was tempted to get a Mobo that would SLI but if the main card gets reduced what the hell is the point? Does anyone know of any motherboards that can run two video cards at 16x PCI-E 2.0, with 1155 and can accept 1600 DDR3 RAM?
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# RE: PCIx16?David Ramsey 2012-11-26 10:20
Several comments:

1. This is true of ANY Z67/Z68/Z77 motherboard except high-end boards with PLX chips. You've only got 16 PCI-E lanes from the CPU, so provisioning 2 x16 slots is impossible without extra hardware.

2. If you're using an Ivy Bridge chip, you've got PCI-E 3.0 lanes with twice the bandwidth as PCI-E 2.0 lanes, so those two x8 slots are the equivalent of two x16 slots if you're using a PCI-E 3.0 compliant graphics card.

3. But even if you're running Sandy Bridge CPU and older graphics cards, guess what? Nothing out there saturates 8 PCI-E lanes anyway, so games won't play one FPS slower on a 2x8 SLI or Crossfire system than they would on a 2x16 system.

But if you want to spend extra money, yes, there are many LGA1155 motherboard that can supply 2x16: ASUS Maximum V Extreme, ASUS P8Z77-WS, ASUS P8Z77-V Premium; EVGA Z77 FTW. MSI doesn't seem to have any boards like this, but again, unless you're running triple or quad cards, you don't really need a board with a PLX chip.
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# Black screenJOHN 2012-12-26 09:59
Bios update failed.. blank screen, anybody knows how to restore bios,, have blank screen, I try to reset removing battery and clear cmos and nothing happen, is another way to do it>>>???
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