The Rest of the Board
Other Features of the Board
Due to the presence of a third-party Asmedia ASM1061 SATA 6Gbps controller, there is an additional pair of such connectors on top of the default ones that are courtesy of the Intel Z77 chipset. The four SATA 3Gbps connectors are sandwiched between the two stacks of SATA 6Gbps ones on either side. To the far right, there is a front-facing USB 3.0 expansion connector that will make it easy to connect with the USB 3.0 I/O at the front panel of a tower chassis.
Moving behind the SATA connectors, there is the Multi-BIOS switch that controls the board's Multi-BIOS system to keep one BIOS chip for regular use and the other for back-up purposes. By flicking the switch left, it will toggle BIOS ROM A while BIOS ROM B is toggled when the switch is shifted right. The Multi-BIOS system is also used to perform BIOS recovery at the UEFI BIOS utliity.
At this edge of the board where the headers are located, we see a IEEE 1394 (FireWire) header that is located just before the USB expansion headers. This is due to the presence of a VIA VT6315N IEEE 1394 host controller chip.
Rear I/O Ports
Next, we focused our attention on the rear I/O connectors. There is only a pair of USB 3.0 ports here as there are no third-party USB 3.0 controllers present. We also see the usually PS/2 keyboard/mouse gaming port (optimized for high polling rates) and four USB 2.0 ports (of which the two that are on the left most stack three times more gold than regular connectors for longer durability and prevents oxidization). Located next to that stack is the tiny, black clear CMOS button. The LAN port is powered by the board's Killer E2205 Gigabit chip. From our experience with the Killer Gaming network controller, we've found a slight tangible improvement in latency performance. Further to that, there is an onboard Realtek ALC898 audio chip that powers the audio options of the board with support for Creative Sound Blaster Cinema.
The MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming sports a color scheme that vaguely reminds us of that of ASUS' Republic of Gamers component series. Perhaps such colors are analogous to professional PC gaming. In terms of its feature set, some similarities can be drawn between it and the MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower motherboard like their Military III class pedigree and their 12-phase CPU VRM solutions. They also support insanely highly overclocked DDR3 memory modules so we do expect the Z77A-GD65 Gaming to do well for overclocking. With that said, we would have to put the board through its paces in order to ascertain its performance levels. According to local distributor, Corbell, the Z77A-GD65 Gaming will be available by mid-April and has a SRP of S$359. Do watch this space for more updates in our upcoming review!