MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Motherboard - The March of the Dragoon Army

Launch SRP: S$329

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.

The rightmost SATA 6Gbps connector stack is driven by the board's Intel Z77 chipset; while the leftmost stack is powered by the Asmedia ASM1061 controller.

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 utility..

The Multi-BIOS switch is located near the edge of the heatsink of the chipset, behind the stack of SATA connectors.

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.

From the left edge of the board are the front panel headers for audio, TPM, and system fan power connectors. The USB 2.0 and 3.0 expansion headers are to the right. They allow the connection of additional USB devices with their corresponding USB brackets (optional). With MSI's SuperCharger application installed on the operating system, these connectors will provide quicker USB charging.

The VIA VT6315N host controller chip that powers the IEEE 1394 expansion connector is located between the second and last PCIe x16 slots.


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.

There are three video connectivity options in the form of the HDMI, DVI-D and VGA ports. For audio options, there are both coaxial and optical S/PDIF-out ports and six audio ports.

The Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2205 network controller that promises lower latency in online gaming.

As a testament of MSI's attention to details, we noticed that the rear I/O plate of the motherboard is coated in the colors of the Dragoon Army gaming series.

The letters and figures (in thin red outline) may be hard to read on the black background, but MSI spared no expense to ensure the consistent look-and-feel of its Dragoon Army gaming series is totally imbued in the motherboard.

The Good
Consistently good performer across all tests
Very overclockable
Killer Gaming networking controller
The Bad
Lack of bundled Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity which its competitors offer
More PCIe lanes for multi-GPU configuration would have made this the best gaming board