Preview: MSI Z77A-GD65 (Intel Z77)


Black and Blue Regalia

Other Mobo Features and Usual Suspects

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.

The board sports three PCIe Gen3 PEG slots (easily seen by their huge latches on this board) and four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. The board has plenty of room for a multi-GPU setup.

There are a total of eight SATA connectors - they are divided into two Intel 6Gbps ones (two rightmost connectors in white), four Intel 3Gbps connectors (black ones), and two 6Gbps connectors from the ASMedia AMS1061 controller (two leftmost ones, also in white). On a side note, this photo also shows you an internal USB 3.0 connector (to the right of the SATA ports) that is driven by the Intel Z77 chipset.

There is a Multi-BIOS switch located behind the second set of white SATA 6Gbps connectors. With the board in vertical orientation, flicking the switch left will toggle BIOS ROM A while BIOS ROM B is toggled when the switch is shifted right,

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.

 From the left are the front panel headers for audio and TPM. To the rightmost, we spot USB 2.0 and 3.0 expansion headers. They allow the connection of additional USB devices with their corresponding USB brackets (which are provided in the package). With MSI's SuperCharger application installed on the operating system, these connectors will provide quicker USB charging. There's even FireWire if you still need that option.

The Z77 chipset supports the integrated GPU of the Intel LGA1155 processors; hence, we see VGA, DVI, and DisplayPort outputs and any two of the video display ports can be used at the same time. The combination mouse-keyboard PS/2 port is a nod to gamers who crave for enhanced mouse sensitivity in games.

Initial Thoughts

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.