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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

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.

msi_Z77a-gd65_rot4.jpg

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.

Pros:Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award

+ Z77 Express brings native USB 3.0 at last
+ Lucid Virtu MVP
+ Slot spacing ideal for SLI/Crossfire setups
+ OC Genie II provides quick, safe overclocks
+ POST code display and dual switchable BIOS make troublehooting and disaster recovery easy
+ Mil spec components

Cons:

- Stickers leave residue on the board
- OC Genie kinda conservative
- No compelling reason to upgrade from Z68...unless you depend on USB 3 mass storage

Ratings:

  • Performance: 8.5
  • Appearance: 8.5
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 8.75
  • Value: 9.0

Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

Benchmark Reviews invites you to leave constructive feedback below, or ask questions in our Discussion Forum.


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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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