|MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA1155 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Sunday, 08 April 2012|
Page 18 of 18
MSI Z77A-GD65 Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
This is the first Z77 Express motherboard we've reviewed, and we weren't able to test it with the processor it was designed for. This puts MSI at somewhat of a disadvantage, but it's all we've got to work with, so it's what we'll use.
Normally the stock performance difference between motherboards using the same chipset is small to nonexistent, especially once all vendors learn how to tweak their BIOSes for the best performance. These days, with so much of the circuitry that was formerly on the motherboard moved to the CPU and chipset, the distinguishing features for enthusiast motherboards become overclocking ability and extra features. MSI adds value to their system with their mil-spec components, software bundle, and other features. While their Big Bang series represents the very top end of their motherboard product line (and is priced to match), the Z77A-GD65 should satisfy all but the most rabid enthusiast. Unless you keep bottles of LN2 in your garage, this board should be everything you need.
Even ignoring the mil spec components, the quality of the board is excellent. Solder masking is precise and components are installed straight and true. My one complaint is the stickers MSI plasters the board with: stickers on the CPU socket cover, stickers on the SATA ports, and a sticker on the last PCI-E slot. Every one of them left residue that I had to scrape off with a thumbnail.
The Z77A-GD65's base functionality is enhanced with the switchable dual BIOS, POST code display, voltage test points, power phase LED display, on-board power and reset buttons, and OC Genie II button. Utilities provided in the software package sweeten the deal. One small disappointment is the three-year warranty: given the mil-spec components and the fact that some competitors offer five-year warranties, I expected more.
MSI stays with their traditional corporate blue and black color scheme. It's nice to see the most of the lettering on the board will be oriented correctly with the board installed in a tower case with a window.
Although this is the first Z77 board that Benchmark Reviews has tested, I still rate the performance as "very good"...with a Sandy Bridge CPU, anyway. Although it's disappointing that its benchmark scores were slightly lower than those of the comparison Z68 board, the difference will never be noticeable in real-world use. The Z77A's real performance will remain an unknown until we can test it with a "third generation Intel Core processor" against other Z77 Express motherboards. In the meantime the excellent performance of the Intel native USB 3.0 and Lucid Virtu MVP more than make up for the difference.
At $189.99, this is a high end board that comes in at a mid-range price. It's much cheaper than most X79 motherboards, and unless you keep bottles of LN2 in your garage, it's likely you'll never need more capability and features than this board provides.
But if you already have a good Z68 system, there's no compelling reason to upgrade. The functional differences between Z68 and Z77 and much smaller than between P67 and Z68. If you're building a new rig from scratch, though, this would make an excellent platform to work with, even with Sandy Bridge CPUs.
+ Z77 Express brings native USB 3.0 at last
- Stickers leave residue on the board
Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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