Review Index:

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Features, Layout, and Bundled Accessories


Courtesy of MSI

  • Intel® Z77 Express Chipset
  • Supports 3rd Gen & 2nd Gen Intel® Core™ / Pentium® / Celeron® processors for LGA 1155 socket
  • DDR3-3000 (OC) Memory
  • USB 3.0 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Killer™ E2200 Ethernet: Kill Your Lag
  • Military Class III: Top Quality & Stability
  • OC Genie II: Overclock in 1 Second
  • Click BIOS II: World's 1st UEFI and Software Graphical User Interface
  • PCI Express Gen 3: World's 1st PCI Express Gen 3 Motherboard Brand
  • Multi-GPU: NVIDIA SLI & AMD CrossFire Support
  • Sound Blaster Cinema: Realistic Surround Sound Experience
  • Gaming Device Port: Optimized with Triple Gold-plating for High Frequency Gaming Devices
  • Total Fan Control: Optimize All Fan Speed As You Wish
  • Lucid Virtu MVP: Uncompromised Game Response Performance
  • Super Charger: Quickly Charge your iPad/iPhone/smartphones even under S0/S1/S3/S4/S5 mode

Motherboard Layout

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As the flagship board in MSI's gaming line of boards, the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard features a black and red theme with the Gaming line's dragon mascot embossed in the Southbridge heat sink. The board layout is designed with typical MSI efficiency, sporting plenty of room around all key components with enough SATA, USB, and fan headers to please anyone.

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The back of the board is mostly clear of components with the exception of the CPU socket area. As you can see from the closeup of the area behind the CPU socket, there are several capacitors in close proximity to the CPU socket hold down plate that could interfere with an LGA1155 cooler hold down plate. Just make sure to use some type of padding between the board and the hold down plate or you will risk crushing those components.

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MSI integrated the following ports and components in the Z77A-G65 Gaming rear panel: a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 4 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z77 chipset, a CMOS reset button, a Killer E2200 GigE NIC port, an HDMI video port, a DVI port, a VGA video port, an optical audio output port, an RCA audio output port, and 6 analogue audio ports. One nice addition is MSI's inclusion of port covers for the video output ports.

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The Z77A-GD65 Gaming board comes standard with three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and four PCI-Express x1 slots. PCI-Express slot 1 remains accessible no matter how many of the PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots are filled. The CMOS battery is a different story with its location just to the left of the primary PCI-Express 3.0 slot. When using an Ivy Bridge CPU, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single, x8 bandwidth in a two card configuration, and x8/x4/x4 bandwidth in a three card configuration. With a Sandy Bridge CPU (second generation Intel Core CPU), the board only supports use of the primary and second PCI-Express x16 slots.

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The CMOS battery is to the left of the primary PCI-Express x16 slot and below the secondary PCI-Express x1 slot. The CMOS reset jumper is a bit more accessible, positioned to the lower left of the tertiary PCI-Express x1 slot.

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The front panel audio, SYSFAN4, TPM module (JTMP1), and Voice Genie (JDLED3) headers are located in the upper left corner of the board, along the upper outer edge of PCI-Express x16 slot 3. The Voice Genie header can be used with MSI's Voice Genie module for voice-based board control.

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The front panel and IEEE 1394 port headers are located along the lower outer edge of PCI-Express x16 slot 3.

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The onboard USB 2.0 and board debug (JSPI1) headers, in addition to the multi-BIOS switch and 2-digit debug LED, are located in the lower left corner of the board. The board debug header is used by MSI for board verification and testing purposes. The multi-BIOS switch allows for user switching between the primary and secondary BIOS chips, useful for system recovery. The 2-digit debug LED can be used for debugging system issues during system initialization. It displays the CPU temperature once system initialization has completed. The debug LED codes can be decoded using the table used in the motherboard manual.

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The Intel Z77 chipset is covered by a large aluminum, low profile heat sink just below the primary and secondary PCI-Express x16 slots. The heat sink is done in a red and black design with the board's dragon logo prominently featured.

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MSI included a total of eight on-board SATA ports and one USB 3.0 header, just under the chipset cooler. The right-most six SATA ports are controlled by the Intel Z77 chipset controller. The ports labeled SATA3_4 and SATA5_6 SATA 2 3Gb/s ports, while the ports labeled SATA1_2 are SATA 3 6Gb/s ports. The left-most SATA ports are SATA 3 6Gb/s ports tied to the ASMedia controller.

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The four on-board DDR3 memory slots are located in the board's lower right corner. The primary memory slots are slots 2 and 4 with dual channel memory mode enabled when modules are seated both slots. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at up to 3000MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The 24-pin ATX power connector, V-Check Point slots, and a system fan header are located to the lower left the memory slots. Using the provided V-Check Point cables and a multi-meter, you can easily measure several board voltages directly instead of having to rely on the BIOS or windows based monitoring tools.

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In the lower right corner of the board are the on-board buttons - Power, Reset, and OC Genie II - the MultiConnect Panel Connector header, the SYSFAN3 header, and the CPU power phase LEDS. The power button glows green when an active power supply is attached to the board, while the reset button glows green when the board is powered on. The OC Genie II button glow blue when the button is pressed and the OC Genie II BIOS is active. OC Genie II is an automated overclocking BIOS that overclocks the board to pre-set levels regardless of the current BIOS settings. The MultiConnect Panel Connector header (JTURBO1) can be used to connect an optional front panel device for controlling OC Genie and other board functions. The CPU power phase LEDs illuminate blue as the eight CPU-specific power phases activate.

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In spite of the 12 power phases dedicated to the CPU and CPU integrated devices, MSI design plenty of space into the CPU socket area to accommodate even the large coolers. Along the sockets top and right sides is a heat pipe cooling assembly covering the board's CPU power circuitry. Two additional fan headers are located to the upper left and lower right of the CPU socket.

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As shown, even the massive Noctua NH-D14 fits the Z77A-GD65 Gaming with no issues. From the front, the cooler looks like a tight fit with taller RAM modules, but the side shots show that there is more than enough space to accommodate larger modules. The modules shown in the pictures are G.Skill RipJawX DDR3-2133 modules with sinks equally the size of even the Corsair Vengeance line.

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The onboard ATX12V 8-pin power connector is located to the upper right of the CPU socket and heat pipe cooler.

Included Accessories

MSI included a healthy mix of bundle accessories in with the Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard.

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The bundled user manuals and installation DVDs provide more than enough information to get the board up and running, including a a manual detailing out the included software applications and a comprehensive fold-out quickstart guide.

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The rear panel shield is a base black color with all device ports clearly marked in red for easy identification and to keep with the board's red and black theme.

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MSI includes a total of four SATA cables, rated for up to 6GB/s operation. The included cables are locking cables with a mix of straight and 90 degree connectors included.

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For use with the on-board front panel headers, MSI included their M-Connector plugs. You simply plug the front panel plugs into the M-Connector and plug the M-Connector into the appropriate board header. It makes installation the front panel plugs much easier.

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For multi-GPU use, MSI included a 2-way NVIDIA SLI connector.

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The included V-Check cables plug into the ports in the V-Check Point assembly to give easy access for measuring board voltages directly. Instead of having to stick multi-meter leads into the assembly, you attach them to these extension cables.

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In line with the gaming-centered theme of the board, MSI includes a dragon-themed door knob hanger and a case sticker.

Video News

May 20, 2013 | 12:58 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Nice job indeed.

Should be "red" rather than "read" when describing color scheme early on in the review.

May 20, 2013 | 03:25 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Thanks for the kind words and pointing out the wording issue.  It has been corrected...

October 27, 2014 | 05:40 PM - Posted by Susan40 (not verified)

Very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.

May 20, 2013 | 01:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How can you release something under NDA?

May 20, 2013 | 01:17 PM - Posted by loppe (not verified)

This is NDA!!!

May 20, 2013 | 06:41 PM - Posted by raxx (not verified)

This is a Z77 board, not a Z87 board.

May 21, 2013 | 12:54 AM - Posted by JOE_E

Very nice review of the MSI Z77A-GD65 gaming motherboard. I am thinking of buying one of these when I do my next build and i really appreciate the thorough article. Keep up the great work Morry!

May 21, 2013 | 01:26 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Thank you.  Glad to help.  Make sure to check out reviews on other sites - others may have run into things that we didn't see in our review sample...

May 21, 2013 | 03:01 AM - Posted by KF (not verified)

I am curious... This is a gaming motherboard. So, I have to assume one would install a gaming video card. Is there a specific reason for the DVI and VGA ports on the back? Does the gamer actually use those ports?

I suppose one can connect other monitors up to those ports in a pinch, but does anybody use VGA any more?

Personally, I would rather see extra USB ports than a VGA port.

May 21, 2013 | 04:08 PM - Posted by Andre RH (not verified)

Thanks for the review,

I just bought the GD65 standard board from Newegg yesterday (it was a bit cheaper than the gaming board and gave me 8 gigs or ram free). Aside from the better network chip and cooler paint job, is there any other difference?

Also MSI: support the PC Perspective Podcast! I exclusively bought from MSI as a thank you for their support(...and also I could not get Alex's voice out of my head).

May 21, 2013 | 08:56 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

We didn't review the plain GD65, but from what I can tell from the GD65 specs, the differences are the paint job and coloration, heatsinks, Killer NIC, and inclusion of Sound Blaster software pack.

May 21, 2013 | 08:02 PM - Posted by ServerStation668 (not verified)

This overview of a Dell server PowerEdge R720 makes an interesting comparison:

May 28, 2013 | 06:44 PM - Posted by Robert (not verified)

This is a really nice board, and a nice price! I have been behind on gaming machines for a while and wonder what video cards go well with it in SLI?

May 30, 2013 | 10:35 PM - Posted by Offerlyneancy (not verified)

A dozen Los Angeles-area residents—including the state's second-largest biller for chiropractic services—were taken into custody Tuesday in connection with seven criminal cases alleging they cumulatively submitted more than $22 million in false billings to Medicare.

Those arrested also include a physician's assistant and owners of durable medical equipment and ambulance companies, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In one of the cases, three defendants affiliated with Gardena-based ProMed Medical Transportation, an ambulance company, were charged with submitting more than $5.9 million in false claims to Medicare between 2008 and 2011.

ProMed's owner, Yaroslav Proshak, 45, of Valley Village, general manager Sharetta Wallace, 35, of Inglewood, and office manager and biller Sergey Mumjian, 40, of West Hollywood submitted claims for medically unnecessary transportation services and then created fake documentation purporting to support those claims, the government alleges.

The charges filed in Los Angeles federal court are part of a nationwide crackdown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in eight cities that led to charges against 89 people for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit about $223 million in phony claims to Medicare, federal prosecutors said.

The 12 Southland arrestees are among 13 defendants charged in Los Angeles in cases that allege health care fraud. The dozen either were arrested or surrendered to authorities after learning that they had been charged. The 13th defendant is a fugitive.

The defendants include Dr. Houshang Pavehzadeh, of the Sylmar Physician Medical Group, who allegedly billed Medicare more than $1.7 million for chiropractic treatments he never performed.

During the scheme, which ran from 2005 through 2012, Pavehzadeh, 40, of Agoura Hills, became the second-largest Medicare biller in California for chiropractic services—even though he was not in the United States when some of the services were performed, prosecutors allege.

In addition to being charged with health care fraud, Pavehzadeh is charged with aggravated identity theft related to Medicare beneficiaries whose information he used to bill Medicare as a part of the alleged scheme.

When investigators tried to conduct an audit of Pavehzadeh's claims, he falsely reported to the Los Angeles Police Department that he had been carjacked and that patient files requested by the auditors had been stolen from his car, according to federal prosecutors.

Nine defendants affiliated with durable medical equipment companies were also charged in five separate indictments.

Olufunke Fadojutimi, 41, of Carson, a registered nurse; Ayodeji Temitayo Fatunmbi, 41, formerly of Carson, and now believed to be living in Nigeria; and Maritza Velazquez, 40, of Las Vegas, were charged with health care fraud.

The scheme allegedly revolved around Lutemi Medical Supplies, a company Fadojutimi owned and where Fatunmbi and Velazquez worked. According to the indictment in the case, Lutemi billed Medicare more than $8.3 million in claims, primarily for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs.

Fadojutimi and Fatunmbi allegedly laundered Medicare funds in order to purchase fraudulent prescriptions for the power wheelchairs and pay illegal kickbacks to recruit Medicare beneficiaries.

Fadojutimi and Velazquez was arrested today and Fatunmbi is currently a fugitive, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Susanna Artsruni, 45, of North Hollywood, and Erasmus Kotey, 76, of Montebello, a licensed physician's assistant, allegedly worked together to commit health care fraud out of a medical clinic on Vermont Avenue where they both worked.

Kotey allegedly prescribed medically unnecessary equipment, including power wheelchairs, for Medicare beneficiaries. Many of those power wheelchair prescriptions were then used by Artsruni's company, Mid-Valley Medical Supply, to support fraudulent claims to Medicare, prosecutors allege.

In only four months, the clinic and Mid-Valley billed Medicare more than $525,000 for the bogus claims, prosecutors allege.

Artsruni was previously convicted of health care fraud and was on pretrial supervision at the time she allegedly laundered some of the proceeds of the latest fraud.

Three other medical equipment cases were also brought, alleging fraudulent Medicare billing for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs that were sometimes never even delivered.

In one case, Akinola Afolabi, 53, of Long Beach, owner of Emmanuel Medical Supply, allegedly submitted more than $2.6 million in in false and fraudulent billing to Medicare.

In another case, Queen Anieze-Smith, 52, of Encino, and Abdul King- Garba, 47, of Westwood, owner-operators of ITC Medical Supply, allegedly submitted more than $1.8 million in false and fraudulent billing to Medicare, according to court documents.

In the third case, Clement Etim Aghedo, 53, of Fontana, owner of Ace Medical Supply Co., allegedly submitted more than $1.8 in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.

The charge of health care fraud carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison; money laundering carries a potential 20 years in prison; and aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term.
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