ASUS, BIOSTAR, GIGABYTE, and MSI Intel Z77 Motherboard Round Up

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MSI Z77A-GD65

MSI Z77A-GD65 Ivy Bridge Motherboard Review

The MSI Z77A-GD65 retail packaging boasts about the features that are included on the Z77A-GD65. The largest and most prominent is the Military Class III logo. We can also see the OC Genie II, Click BIOS II, MSI 3 year warranty, PCI Express Gen 3, 22nm processor support, NVIDIA SLI, and the AMD CrossFireX logo.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Ivy Bridge Motherboard Review

Flipping the box over we can see a breakdown of the various technologies on the MSI Z77A-GD65 motherboard. Some of the technologies not included on the front of the packing include Instant OC, Super Charger, Winki, and the THX TruStudio Pro.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Ivy Bridge Motherboard Review

Once we open up the retail packaging we can see that the included bundle is more chaos than organization. Keep in mind that this is an early sample and not necessarily the finished packaging.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Ivy Bridge Motherboard Review

Removing the bundle for the MSI Z77A-GD65 we can see that the motherboard is quite securely packaged within the packaging and protected from ESD with the traditional anti-static bag.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Ivy Bridge Motherboard Review

The bundle that comes with the MSI Z77A-GD65 has all the accessories that you need to set up your new system. Included with the MSI Z77A-GD65 are Manuals, Driver Disc, quick installation guide, four SATA cables, NVIDIA SLI bridge, I/O shield, MSI M Connects, V-Check plugs and a certificate of quality and stability.

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

The MSI Z77A-GD65 is a sharp looking board. I wouldn’t base a purchase on the look, but the blue and black color combination is sharp. The all black look is overdone lately, and while red and black looks good, the blue and black color combination is much more subtle and less contrasting. The overall layout of the MSI Z77A-GD65 is quite good. The Easy Button 3 onboard buttons are out in the open and easy to access even inside a PC case; the SATA ports and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports all come out parallel to the PCB so it will make cable management a breeze.

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

This is possibly the most important corner of the MSI Z77A-GD65, or at least the one with the most features. Staring in the corner we a series of three buttons; MSI calls this technology Easy Button 3. The first on the right is the OC Genie II, followed by the power and reset buttons. Below the 24pin motherboard power is the V-Check points. The V-Check points allow us to check the VCCP, CPU VTT, CPU Graphics, DDR VCC, and the PCH 1P05 voltages. The memory support for the MSI Z77A-GD65 is impressive; it will support up to 32GB of memory running at 2667MHz! Along the right edge of the MSI Z77A-GD65 we have the 4pin CPU fan header, a 3pin system fan header, and a series of 9 LEDs. The topmost LED is the DrMos alarm while the remaining eight LEDs indicate the number of phases that the CPU is currently using.

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

Along the leading edge of the MSI Z77A-GD65 we have the internal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller. What makes the MSI Z77A-GD65 different from the MSI P67 and Z68 motherboards is the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 is now part if the Intel Z77 chipset. There is no need to add a third party USB 3.0 controller to motherboards anymore. Looking at the SATA ports, the MSI Z77A-GD65 has a grand total of four SATA ports. The right SATA ports are SATA III 6Gbps which are native to the Intel Z77 chipset along with the four black SATA II 3Gbps ports. The remaining two SATA ports are SATA III 6Gbps as well, though they are controlled by an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. Along the left edge of the MSI Z77A-GD65 we have three sets of internal USB 2.0 headers. To the right of the USB 2.0 headers we can find the switch to bounce between the different BIOS chips.

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

The MSI Z77A-GD65 features three PCIe x16 Gen 3.0 expansion slots and four PCIe x1 slots. Along the edge of the MSI Z77A-GD65 we can see the blue internal IEEE1394a (Firewire) header, front panel headers, Voice Genie connector (JDLED3), Trusted Platform Module, a 3pin system fan header, and the internal header for the front panel audio. Swinging around to the bottom edge of the MSI Z77A-GD65 we can see the Realtek ALC898 high definition audio codec, Fintek F71889AD Super I/O controller, and the Intel 82579V 10/100/1000 fast Ethernet controller.

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

The MSI Z77A-GD65 has a single 8pin CPU power plug to supply power to the LGA1155 processor. To the left of the LGA1155 socket we can see that the Z77A-GD65 is using Super Ferrite Chokes.

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

The I/O panel of the MSI Z77A-GD65 looks like it could be off of any of the Intel Z68 motherboards. In addition to the pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports we can see an additional four USB 2.0 ports. There is a single PS/2 port that can be used for either a keyboard or mouse, optical and coaxial SPDIF out ports, HDMI, 15pin D-Sub VGA, DVI, Gigabit LAN (Intel 82579V) and the ever popular Clear CMOS Button.

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