MSI Z77A-GD65 Motherboard Preview – Intel Z77 w/ Sandy Bridge

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MSI Z77A-GD65 ‘Ivy Bridge’ Motherboard

MSI Z77A-GD65 'Ivy Bridge' Motherboard Layout

It’s not often that we can preview a motherboard before the official launch of the chipset, but today we have exactly that for you. The MSI Z77A-GD65 is based on the upcoming Intel Z77 chipset. The Intel Z77 chipset uses the Intel LGA1155 socket and will support the latest 22nm processors from Intel. From what we can tell, the only real design change between the Intel Z68 chipset and the Intel Z77 chipset is the addition of SuperSpeed USB 3.0. There may be a few other design changes in the chipset, but we don’t have the full details about the Intel Z77 chipset just yet. Those much more specific details will be released with the official launch of the Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ platform later this year. For now though, what we have is the opportunity to look at the MSI Z77A-GD65 Intel Z77 ‘Ivy Bridge’ motherboard. Unfortunately, we don’t have an Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ processor in our greedy hands just yet, the good news however is that the Intel Z77 chipset will support all of the existing Sandy Bridge processors so we will be using our Intel Core i7 2600K Sandy Bridge processor for testing today.

As I mentioned above, we have the opportunity to take an early look at the MSI Z77A-GD65. While the Intel Z77 chipset doesn’t launch for some time, we can see that at least one company already has boards out in the wild. With that detail alone, I would imagine that the Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ launch is coming up quick for those who are waiting for it. Once we hit the official launch for the Intel Z77 chipset and the new Ivy Bridge processors we will likely be coming back to this board to compare the numbers at some point. For now, let’s take a look at what makes the MSI Z77A-GD65 tic.

For starters at the heart of the MSI Z77A-GD65 is the new Intel Z77 chipset. Like the previous Intel Z68/P67 chipsets the Z77 features a total of 16 PCI Express Gen3 lanes for the graphics cards. On the MSI Z77A-GD65 we can run one card at x16, two cards at x8 (x8, x8), or one card at x8 and two cards at x4 (x8, x4, x4). The MSI Z77A-GD65 will support both NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX. The key point to the MSI Z77A-GD65 is the SuperSpeed USB 3.0. Now that the Intel Z77 chipset supports SuperSpeed USB 3.0 MSI didn’t need to use the NEC/Renassas SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller on the Z77A-GD65 like they have on their previous motherboards.

MSI Big Bang XPower II Military Class Components

The MSI Z77A-GD65 mainboard uses Military Class components. Though MSI has recently updated their boards to Military Class III components. The Military Class III components are comprised of DrMOS II, Hi-C Caps, Super Ferrite Chokes, and Solid Capacitors. Each of the four parts of the Military Class III technology play a vital role in the capabilities of the MSI Z77A-GD65. The DrMOS II is comprised of three components on one chip. The Driver IC, top MOSFET, and the Bottom MOSFET were originally combined in the original DrMOS by MSI a few years ago. Today nearly all motherboard manufacturers have switched over to their own variant of this design. Stepping up to DrMOS II, MSI has raised the bar even further. The have added active protection for your motherboard. The MSI DrMOS II has added the ability to monitor and prevent damage from pushing the system to far by adding in double thermal protection. The double thermal protection first informs the user if the operation temperature hits 115 degrees Celsius, at 130C the system automatically shuts down. The Hi-C capacitors (Highly-Conductive polymerized capacitor) offer a high themal stability, ultra low ESR, and no mechanical issues. Another great advantage to the Hi-C capacitors is the life span. The Hi-C capacitors have a life span of up to 8 times that of the more traditional solid capacitors still found on many boards today. The SFC or Super Ferrite Chokes offer 10% higher power efficiency, stability and better overclocking. The solid capacitors that are used on the MSI Z77A-GD65 offer a life span of more than 10 years under a full load. All of the Military Class III components have passed the testing to be certified by the MIL-STD-810G standard.

MSI Z77A-GD65 ‘Ivy Bridge’ Motherboard Specifications

Processor Support 3rd Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors in LGA1155
Chipset Intel Z77 Chipset
Memory Support 4x DDR3 DIMMs Support DDR32667/2400/2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 DRAM 32GB Maximum
LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Intel 82579V
Audio Integrated HD Audio Codec by realtek ALC898
8-Channel audio with jack sensing
Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
SATA 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports
-SATA 1-2 by Intel Z77
-SATA 7-8 by ASMedia ASM1061
4x SATA 3Gb/s ports
-SATA 3-6 by Intel Z77
RAID SATA 1-6 Support Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (AHCI/ RAID 0/ 1/ 5/ 10) by Intel Z77
USB 3.0 2x USB 3.0 Rear I/O ports by Intel Z77
1x USB 3.0 Internal Connector by Intel Z77
Multi-GPU Supports ATI CrossFire Technology Supports NVIDIA SLI Technology Supports Lucid Virtu Universal MVP
Back Panel 1x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Port
1x Clear CMOS Button
1x Coaxial SPDIF-out Port
1x Optical SPDIF-out Port
4x USB 2.0 Ports
2x USB 3.0 Ports
1x LAN Port
6x Audio Ports
1x HDMI port
1xDVI-D Port
1x VGA Port
Onboard 3x USB 2.0 Connectors
1x USB 3.0 Connectors
1x IEEE 1394 Connector
1x Multi BIOS Switch
1x TPM Connector
1x Front Panel Audio Connector
1x Chassis Intrusion Connector
1x Voice Genie Connector
1x MultiConnect Panel Connector
1x V-Check Points Set
Expansion Slots 3x PCIe 3.0 x16 Slots
4x PCIe 2.0 x1 Slots

Now that we have looked at some of the technologies and specifications of the MSI Z77A-GD65 we can move on to the retail packaging on the next page.

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