Looking at the lower half of the board, there is official support for PCI Gen 3.0 bus standard (courtesy of the new processor) as well as USB 3.0 that's available natively on the new chipsets. As such, there's an absence of third-party USB 3.0 controllers on the MSI Z77A-GD65 motherboard. Of course some boards continue to support third-party USB 3.0 controllers to provide users with more high-speed connectivity options such as the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe, which supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost UASP mode, courtesy of ASMedia. Having said that, MSI did feel the need to buff up the number of SATA 6Gbps ports supported by the chipset (which is a paltry total of two), by integrating an ASMedia AMS1061 controller to bump the the total count to four.
As we mentioned earlier, MSI has repositioned their well-like Easy Button 3 function and this has allowed MSI to fit in a slew of of headers for front/rear panel connectivity in one area. This gives the board a cleaner feel and you don't have to think twice where to find these headers. Cable management too is easier and better managed. The downside however is the difficult to reach placement of the Easy Button 3 function if the board is installed within a chassis. There are pros and cons to either design and MSI has to see if this is equally well received by users.
We are fairly impressed with this high-end showing from MSI. The board offers basic functionality that has been enhanced by the presence of a backup BIOS in case of corruption to the BIOS ROM. MSI has also added value by featuring its Military Class III VRM components to burnish its overclocking abilities. Do watch this space for more updates as we put this board through its paces in the near future.