The MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming series motherboard isn’t a bad board. Though much like the Gigabyte was with the original X58 G1 Series of gaming motherboards, they are a bit late to the party. The Intel Haswell launch is right around the corner, rumored to be in just a few weeks at Computex. Granted, at this point the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard has been available since the beginning of April which is a little better, but still only two months before the new Intel LGA1150 socket and Z87 chipset start coming out. Though if you’re looking to build an Intel Z77 system the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard has some great potential.
Aside from the timing of the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming being so close to the next generation. It’s nearly the identical board as the MSI Z77A-GD65 motherboard. Other than the obvious cosmetic differences between the two boards, there are very few hardware differences.
The most notable hardware difference between the two is the NIC. The original MSI Z77A-GD65 uses a Intel 82579V Gigabit Ethernet controller. The Gaming Series motherboard uses a Killer E2200 Gaming NIC. The advantage to the Killer E2200 NIC is the ability to prioritize the network traffic. Though if you’re a serious competitive gamer, I doubt you will have a need for prioritizing your network traffic as it’s likely that the only thing you’ll be using the network for is the game. You’re probably not running a torrent program to download, streaming music, or other network heavy tasks, you’ll be gaming. There is a lot of debate as to whether or not this will actually improve latency and network performance. There’s no doubt that the Killer E2200 NIC won’t hinder you’re network performance. Another area that is different from the standard Z77A-GD65 is the ‘Gaming Device Ports’. There is a pair of USB 2.0 ports below the PS/2 port that are designed for use with high performance gaming devices such as high polling rate mice, more specifically those with rates of 500MHz to 1000MHz. This reduces the response time for your mouse and gives you a smoother response while gaming.
When it comes to performance the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard didn’t disappoint. We ran the synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark, as well as the real world gaming in Battlefield 3 where we use fraps. Not once were we let down with the scores or gaming experience while playing through the levels. While looking at the peripherals like Audio performance, SATA III 6Gbps performance, and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance everything was right where we would expect to find it. Overclocking on the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard was a breeze.
In almost no time at all we were able to bring our Intel core i7 3770K to 4.8GHz. 4.8GHz is the most this particular processor is capable of without using sub-ambient CPU cooling, at least while remaining stable. 4.9GHz has always been achievable as long as we didn’t try and do anything within the operating system.
Right now the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series motherboard is available for as little as $169.99 shipped, while the MSI Z77A-GD65 motherboard is available for only $154.99 shipped AR. There isn’t much in the way of differences between the two boards, so it’s up to you if the differences are worth the extra $15. Personally I would probably spend the extra 15 bucks, between the Killer E2200 NIC, and the better looking aesthetics it would be worth it to me. Whether you choose the Gaming edition of the Z77A-GD65 Intel Z77 motherboard or the vanilla edition we looked at when Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ first launched, both are covered by a 3 year limited warranty.
Legit Bottom Line: Although the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard may be a day late to the party, it’s certainly not a dollar short. Everything we asked the Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard to do it did without fail. We’re happy with the overall performance and feature set the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motheroard has to offer!