MSI Z68A-GD65 review

A typical high-end MSI board that's packed with features

TODO alt text

For

  • Military Class
  • Performance
  • Excellent OC utilities

Against

  • Little tight for CPU coolers

No look at any new motherboard technology would be complete without at least one example from MSI. Strangely, when you look on MSI's global website there are seven boards using Z68 but on the UK site there's just this solitary example: the Z68A-GD65 (B3).

It's just as well it's a well-featured board then. Just like the Asus P8Z68-V Pro there is more than a passing resemblance to a previous MSI P67 board; in this case the P67A-GD65.

It comes with all the goodies found on MSI's better equipped boards: OC Genie II, Military Class components in the power design, APS (Active Phase Switching) Click BIOS and MSI's UEFI BIOS with its large easy to use interface.

For the time being MSI has all its UK motherboard eggs in this one basket, so how's the weave?

MSI defiantly had the enthusiast in mind when it designed Z68A-GD65. It has some features on the board that only they could appreciate; for example there is a check point block to take direct measurements of various voltages the board is using via a probe.

On the bottom edge of the board there are a couple of large power and reset buttons for use with an open case or test bench. Usually the button for the OC Genie II is close by these two buttons but not on this board. It's tucked away on the top right edge of the board, just behind the memory slots. This makes it pretty hard to get to once the board has been installed in a case, unless, of course, you have pristine cable runs.

Although the OC Genie II technology is very good, and the Control Center II software overclocking application is equally impressive, we sorted out the overclocking the old fashioned way. By delving into the BIOS, we managed a fairly speedy 4.7GHz out of our 2600K.

Feature packed

MSI z68a gd65

As usual MSI has gone to great lengths to get the best components for the power circuitry, which MSI like to call their Military Class II. These top notch Hi-c Caps, Super Ferrite Chokes and Solid Caps all help to keep the board stable, particularly when its being pushed hard when overclocked.

These parts of the power design are cooled by a pair of passive heatsinks which are connected together with a heatpipe. Just like the Asus P8Z68-V Pro, MSI has used a third party Marvell chip to supply a couple more SATA 6Gbps ports giving the Z68A-GD65 a total of four along with four SATA 3Gbps ports.

That's where the third-party fun stops though. There's a pair of x16 PCI-e slots, supporting CrossFire or SLI setups, but as they're both run from the single x16 lane they can't both run at top whack. Use a single card and the slot runs at full speed, but adding a second card splits the PCI-e lanes so both slots run at x8 speed.

Tech Labs

Tech labs

Bench 1

Bench 2

Bench 3

Bench 4

It may be a rather lonesome offering from MSI, and we assume there must be more UK bound, but it's a robust and feature-rich Z68 board at a decent price.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ68(B3) Express
Multi GPU SupportedSLI, CrossFireX, CrossFire
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots2
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H2 LGA-1155
Brand NameMSI
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedCore i5, Core i7, Core i3, Pentium Dual-core, Celeron Dual-Core
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots2
Audio Channels7.1
Fast EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots7
HDMIYes
DVIYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports6
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports4
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports3
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 3.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots5
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Processor TechnologyOC Genie Technology, Enhanced SpeedStep Technology, Turbo Boost Technology
Width305 mm
Depth245 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product ModelZ68A-GD65 (G3)
Product NameZ68A-GD65 (G3) Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberZ68A-GD65 (G3)
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.msicomputer.com