MSI Z77A-GD65 Motherboard Preview – Intel Z77 w/ Sandy Bridge
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
It’s going to be an interesting ride for the Intel Z77 chipset. It is looking like the only difference is the addition of the SuperSpeed USB 3.0. The problem with the Intel Z77 chipset is that it doesn’t feature anything really worth upgrading for over the Intel Z68 system. If your looking to build a new system with either a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor, the Intel Z77 would be the way to go. If you’re on an existing ‘Sandy Bridge’ system, there really isn’t a good reason to make the switch. Let’s take a quick look at the evolution of the Intel LGA1155 platform.
When the Intel Sandy Bridge platform launched it had the P67 and H67 chipsets. The P67 could overclock while the H67 had the graphics capabilities of the Intel HD graphics. While the graphics aren’t great for gaming, features like Intel QuickSync were great if you needed them. A few months after the initial launch of Sandy Bridge came the Intel Z68 platfrom. The Intel Z68 chipset combined the overclocking potential of the Intel P67 chipset and the Intel HD graphics of the Intel H67 chipset. The Intel Z68 chipset also brought with it the ability for SSD Caching. Intel Smart Response Technology was a good way to get SSD like performance and the capacity of a hard drive with out the high cost of a large SSD. The Intel Z68 chipset brought with it some good reasons to upgrade early on.
The only feature that the Intel Z77 chipset is bringing with it is SuperSpeed USB 3.0. In all honesty most people wont likely notice a performance difference between the Intel Z77 USB 3.0 and the performance of third party controllers. The speeds that we are seeing in our testing are partially due to the controllers, but we are also using a $360.00 Corsair Force GT SSD. I don’t think that to many people will be using a drive like that for storage. If we were using a traditional hard drive we wouldn’t be seeing read and write speeds nearly that high. We only use the Corsair SSD to show a difference in the controllers.
With my little rant being said, the MSI Z77A-GD65 was on the ball for all of our tests. When it came to performance there was very little difference between it and the ASUS P8Z68 in any of our tests. The gaming performance between both of the boards was negligible. Any differences that we saw in the games isn’t anything that would be noticeable unless that you are running benchmarks. The CPU intensive tasks did show a slight favor to the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro, but once again not a difference that would be noticeable unless comparing the performance head to head. Even then as we saw it’s a very close call and the two systems traded spots.
I suppose the question of the day is; How did the Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 perform? Overall I would have to say it did a fine job. The MSI Z77A-GD65 uses the Intel Z77 chipset SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro uses an ASMedia ASM1042 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller. The first test we ran was CrystalDiskMark. In CrystalDiskMark the MSI Z77A-GD65 was able to outperform the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro by a solid margin. We also fired up HD Tune 5.00. The ASUS P8Z68-V Pro was able to outperform the MSI Z77A-GD65 by a small margin in the average read. The average write in HD Tune was wone by the MSI Z77A-GD65. You can find all the results on our SuperSpeed USB 3.0 testing page.
Since we are looking at the MSI Z77A-GD65 significantly early, we don’t have a price for it just yet. Looking at the MSI Z68A-GD65 as a reference point, we would guess that the price will be similar at around the $190-$200 range. Don’t quote me on that though, as it is purely speculation at this point. What I am sure of is the warranty. In the event of the MSI Z77A-GD65 failing, the MSI Z77A-GD65 is backed by a three year warranty from MSI.
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI Z77A-GD65 is an overall great board. If you are looking to build a socket 1155 system and want to wait for availability of the Intel Z77 chipset the MSI Z77A-GD65 is a great bet!