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MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review

As we prepare for the launch of Haswell, we quickly move through a couple of Z77 boards. Today we're spending time with the Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series from MSI.

@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Fri, May 24 2013 2:24 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 36 IMAGES

While the next-generation Intel chipset is just around the corner, the current Z77 chipset continues to be a very current offering from Intel. So much so that we recently saw MSI launch not only a new motherboard based on it, but a new motherboard series. The new Gaming Series was first seen with the release of the new GTX 650 Ti 2GB Boost Twin Frozr Gaming Series video card last month.

We mentioned in that review that MSI was creating a unified series under the new Gaming Series which would see both video cards and motherboards fall under it. A little like ASUS have the ROG series, we think this is a good idea for MSI. While they've always been strong when it comes to video cards, they haven't always shown the same prowess when it comes to motherboards.

So, what does the new Gaming Series bring to the party when it comes to the motherboard side of things? Well, that's exactly what we intend to find out today. The first thing we'll do is take the time to check out the box before we move into the package to see what extras are being offered from MSI.

Once we've taken a look at the package we'll move onto the board itself covering the main features that are offered. We'll head into the BIOS to see if MSI have changed anything in that area, before we take a look at our testbed, cover the boards that you'll see in our graphs today, and of course cover overclocking, before we finally get into the performance.

Package

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Looking at the box design you can see it's very similar to the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB Gaming Series video card which we looked at with the black and red color scheme and the dragon taking up most of the package.

You can see some of the highlight features on the front, but we'll cover that a bit more on the next page. Turning the box over we see some details on some of the main highlights that are offered including Killer Ethernet, Military Class III OC Genie II, Multi GPU support, Sound Blaster Cinema and Click BIOS II.

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Moving inside the package you can see the normal array of paperwork, along with a door knob hanger which says "I'm Sorry Busy Gaming" and an awesome looking case sticker highlighting the fact you're sporting a G Series board.

In the cable department we've got four SATA cables, SLI bridge, I/O backplate and EZ Connector and V-Check point cables to round everything off.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Motherboard

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We see a typical black and red color scheme that tends to be quite popular from companies when it comes to releasing higher-end motherboards. While it does show up often these days, we can't deny the simple fact that it's a great color combination and the red highlights look great, especially the dragon towards the bottom right.

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You can see we've got four PCIe x1 slots and three PCIe x16 slots which run in an x16 / x8 / x4 configuration. In the event you're using SLI, the setup will be x8 / x8. Of course this is very standard when it comes to Z77 motherboards, due to the PCIe lane limitation.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 09 | TweakTown.com

Heading across the bottom of the motherboard we've got a fairly standard setup with a number of headers being seen including the normal array of USB 2.0, 1394 Firewire and fan headers. Towards the right hand side between the bottom most PCIe x16 slot, you can see we've got an LED debug reader and just to the right of that we've got a switch that lets us move between the two BIOSs that are installed.

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Turning the corner you can see we've got a total of eight SATA ports on offer here. The far right two are SATA III and run off the Intel Z77 chipset, while SATA 3_4 are SATA II running off the same chipset. SATA 5_6 are also SATA II, but run off the ASM 1061 chipset, while the last two SATA7_8 ports run off the same chipset, but are SATA III. SATA1_2 should be your main preference for your storage.

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Moving to the top half of the motherboard you can see four DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR3 at speeds ranging from 1600MHz DDR to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking. Here you can also see the main 24-pin ATX power connector, V-Check points, and a couple of buttons including power, reset and the auto overclocking OC Genie II one.

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Heading to the other side you can see the 8-pin CPU power connector tucked away in the normal position, while moving back gives us a look at the main CPU socket area and the heatsink setup. It's not too expansive, but big enough that it should perform well. The quality is also excellent and the color combination as we mentioned before looks great.

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Finishing up our look at the motherboard you can see we've got a combo PS/2 port and four USB 2.0 ports. Hidden in the corner you can see we've got a clear CMOS button along with an optical, coaxial and six auxiliary audio connectors, which all run off the Realtek ALC898. Video out comes from HDMI, VGA and DVI-D, while two USB 3.0 ports are offered and a Gigabit networking port that is powered by the Killer E2205 chip.

BIOS

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Checking out the BIOS, the design is very similar as at its core we've got the same ClickBIOS II that we've seen for a while now.

Graphically it's had a bit of a facelift, though, to match the new Gaming series branding. If you're going to head in here, the chances are you'll head over to the OC area. As for the rest of the BIOS, you can see above it's fairly standard.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital, MemoRight and Corsair.

We've got a number of motherboards in our graphs today as you'd expect with a large focus being on other Z77 offerings. Along with the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series which will be running at both stock and overclocked speeds, we've also got the ASRock Z77 OC Formula, GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H, ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt and Maximus V GENE. Along with those boards we've also got a GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-Wi-Fi to round off the collection.

Before we get into the performance side of things, we'll cover overclocking. Initially we had a bit of trouble when it came to overclocking as our CPU temperature was getting extremely high. Thinking about it for a little bit, I realized that during the whole build process, I don't think I actually installed any thermal paste on the CPU. Quickly pulling our heatsink off of course raveled I was correct and after putting some thermal paste on our 3770K, we found everything working again fine as it should.

As always we started with the multiplier to see just what we could do with the 3770K. We got up to 47x with no issue, which put us at 4.7GHz. From there we headed back into the BIOS and see if we could do anything with the BCLK and squeeze a little bit more performance out of the setup.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

In the end we found adjusting the BCLK up even slightly would send our system into a constant loop. We did try to adjust the voltage slightly, but that also didn't make a difference. In the end you can see above that we ended up with our system running at a solid and even 4.7GHz.

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPU's as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDD's for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series (Intel Z77) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Starting off with Hyper Pi we can see that the MSI offering at stock comes out ahead of the other setups.

AIDA64 numbers across the board are also very strong when compared against the competition. Overclocking does a good job of improving on those numbers.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater™ video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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PCMark 7 performance out the gate is very impressive and you can see that it falls only behind the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt at stock.

As for Media Espresso numbers, this MSI board sits around the ASRock and GIGABYTE offerings level, which is a few minutes behind what the ASUS boards offered.

Again overclocking boosts performance strongly and really helps separate the setups.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPU's as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDD's for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Checking out USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 performance, you can see the performance is pretty typical lining up with other non-XFast based setups.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPU's as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDD's for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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SSD performance is pretty typical under both HD Tune Pro and AIDA64. You can see that the minimum sits a little lower under HD Tune Pro, but the average and maximum numbers come out looking strong.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPU's as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDD's for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Memory performance lines up with our other setups and overclocking brings with it a nice little bump in write performance.

Apart from that, though, there's not too much between all the Z77 setups.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig,[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Gaming performance is fairly standard under both tests. Overclocking gives a slightly boost in the lower resolution tests, but on a whole, we don't see too much change.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power draw numbers are pretty strong and you can see the idle number from MSI is the lowest at stock, while the load is equal lowest with the GIGABYTE offering.

Overclocking bumps both those numbers up slightly, but not by a huge amount.

Core Temperature

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Like our power numbers, the temperature numbers are fairly standard when it comes to our stock testing.

Overclocked you can see they jump a bit, but under 80c at 4.8GHz is quite a good number.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Coming in at $179.99 at the time of writing, the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming really comes in at a good price point considering the performance of the board and just the overall look. I think the big thing at the moment is how long will the Z77 platform be around for with the new Intel Haswell 8-series coming out in just weeks. Like any time a new platform comes out, though, it's not just going to simply replace it (Z77) overnight.

We should see some price adjustment in the CPU area, though, and this is going to make the currently platform attractive, as prices drop. Looking at the results today you can see that performance on the platform is very strong. Against the competition you can also see at times the MSI offering here today manages to sneak out ahead of the competition.

We do have to admit, it's a little weird that MSI would choose to release a new motherboard series at such a late stage of the current chipset. With that said, it also gives them a chance to push the new Gaming series name out there slightly ahead of the next generation Intel platform.

Putting everything together, though, we have got a really strong product here from MSI. Performance is strong and overclocking looks good. Coming in at 4.7GHz, this is a strong overclock and tends to be the limit of what our particular 3770k is capable of hitting.

If you don't want to jump on the next generation Intel platform and want to save some money, while still managing to get some great performance, the current Z77 platform is an extremely attractive option. Paired with a board like the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming, you're going to find yourself with a well-priced system that not only performs well, but looks great and includes some quite nice features.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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