I find myself really confused when it comes to the MSI Z77A-GD65. The fact that out of the box performance is a little lower than the ASRock board is a little disappointing and the AIDA64 RAM performance as well when we overclocked was a little weird. That's where my concerns stop for the board and the things I like about it take over - and to be honest, there's a lot to like.
For starters the overclock was really strong. Sure, it was only 20MHz higher than the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe, but that doesn't change the fact that it was the highest we've got out of our 3770k CPU. Not only that, it did it 5c cooler than the ASUS offering and 14c cooler than the GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H. For us this is a big win.
Feature wise the board is also really strong, the Military Class components are clearly doing their job here and OC Genie II while just bumping your CPU to just a 42x multiplier for a 4.2GHz clock, it does bump your CPU to 4.2GHz at just a push of a button. It's not the most scientific method, but it's a quick, simple and free way to gain some extra MHz out of your processor.
If all that wasn't enough the $169.99 price tag lines it up with the ASRock Z77 Extreme6 which in turn ties it as the cheapest Z77 based motherboard we've tested so far. Considering the feature set and overclock, this is only a good thing. Outside of that, though, one of the things I love about the Z77A-GD65 is the color scheme. You expect a board that looks as cool as this to cost more, but MSI continue to make a good looking board, which comes in at a strong price.
While the out of the box performance is a little down, we do have to make note that the BIOS we're using came out literally 15 minutes before we started testing the board and is in BETA form. We're sure that MSI will see our data and no doubt look into it. If the board didn't do so well in the other areas we'd be more reluctant to give it an award, but the out of the box performance difference is only minor, and overall the board excels strongly in every other area including price, overclocking performance, design and looks.
The MSI Z77A-GD65 just feels like a really complete board and if you're looking for something in this color scheme and at this price point, it's a fantastic option to seat your Ivy Bridge CPU. The only thing we'd suggest is keep an eye on the MSI website for the most recent BIOS, unless of course you're overclocking, then it's not going to matter.
If there was a larger discrepancy in the out of the box performance then we'd pull the performance score right back. The fact it's only a little out, though, and the board offers the strongest overclock we've had so far means that the Editor's Choice award comes extremely well deserved for the MSI Z77A-GD65.
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