MSI Z77A-GD65 review

A solid Z77 debut with the old-school CPU silicon

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With the arrival of the Z77 chipset, we're hoping for a little uptick in raw platform performance.

In other words, it would be great if it was faster than the 6 Series chipsets for existing CPUs. Add in the performance benefit of the upcoming Ivy Bridge generation and you've got a promising overall package.

Unfortunately, we're not quite there yet with the Z77A-GD65 and not just because Ivy Bridge isn't quite out.

At default clocks and settings, it doesn't move the game on from Intel's previous generation chipsets. Whether it's memory bandwidth, rendering, encoding or gaming, the MSI is very much in the same ballpark as our reference H67 board.

That the Asus ROG Maximus V Gene is significantly pacier than the H67 in all the application benchmarks makes things a little tricky for MSI. Time will tell if the Maximus is a one off or whether MSI's Z77 is a little off the pace.

For now, it's pretty much on a par with the Asus Sabertooth Z77 for default metrics.

MSI's Z77A-GD65 has some catching up to do

If that's a little disappointing, the MSI GD65 does keep us with the Maximus board when it comes to overclocking.

Both boards will hit an easy 4.8GHz on air cooling alone with our Intel Core i7 2600K test chip. That's around 200MHz higher than we're used to seeing with the same chip in an Intel Z68 motherboard.

Problem is, this time around it's the Sabertooth that delivers the goods, achieving a borderline bonkers 5GHz with a shonky air cooler.

The MSI doesn't exactly tear 'em up when it comes to one-touch overclocking. 4.2GHz courtesy of the OC Genie button isn't exactly shabby, but the competition is clearly quicker.

We liked

MSI doesn't skimp on quality and the Z77A-GD65 is veritably loaded with top notch caps, MOSFETs and other gubbins.

The cooling kit is nicely executed, too, and there are plenty overclocking features for both novices and experts.

We disliked

The harsh truth is that the MSI GD65 didn't blow our socks off. At default settings, it doesn't move the game on from boards sporting Intel's 6 Series chipsets.

And while it does send some socks sailing when it comes to overclocking, Asus' Sabertooth Z77 puts on an ever better show.


MSI's first Z77 effort doesn't do a lot wrong, but it's not the best showcase of Intel's brand new chipset.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ77 Express
Multi GPU SupportedSLI, CrossFireX
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots3
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
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots7
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
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 3.0, PCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots7
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Width305 mm
Depth245 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product ModelZ77A-GD65
Product NameZ77A-GD65 Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300, Serial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberZ77A-GD65
Manufacturer Website Address