Midrange boards typically have to sacrifice features to get under $200 and MSI’s Z77A-GD65 shows evidence of this philosophy. It’s the only board here without a discrete USB 3.0 controller, instead relying on the native Intel chipset for all USB 3.0. It’s also the only board without DisplayPort.
Folks still rolling PCI components will also have to look elsewhere, as MSI ditches the legacy expansion slot for another PCIe slot.
MSI shaved costs by jettisoning extra USB 3.0 ports on the Z77A-GD65.
Don’t take this to mean MSI cut out all the frills. The board has onboard power and reset switches, overclocking voltage contacts, an LED POST readout, and, like the two others here, offers both CrossFireX and SLI as well as LucidLogix Virtu support.
In performance, MSI takes the safe road by keeping the clocks lower than the other two boards. At stock speeds, the board topped out at 3.7GHz on multithreaded loads and generally bounced around 3.8GHz with single-threaded loads. The two others here ran full tilt at 3.9GHz on all workloads. Overall, the performance among the trio is generally close.
Like the Gigabyte, MSI’s board is obviously intended for Ivy Bridge chips. Why? The last x16 PCIe 3.0 slot only works with an Ivy Bridge. If you intend to run an older Sandy Bridge chip, the slot is deactivated, as SNB doesn’t have enough PCIe bandwidth to run it. By sticking with PCIe 2.0 from the peripheral controller hub, the Asus’s third x16 is hot no matter which chip you run.
The Z77A-GD65 is a fine board at its price, but yuan for yuan, the Asus and Gigabyte simply outclass it in extra features and specsmanship.
Krispy Kreme Burger
Intel LAN controller; OC Genie works well
Deep Fried Pickle
Not enough USB 3.0 ports; no DisplayPort
PCMark 7 Overall
PCMark 7 Lightweight
PCMark 7 Productivity
Valve Particle (fps)
SiSoft Sandra 2012 (GB/s)
SATA 6Gb/s read (MB/s)
SATA 6Gb/s write (MB/s)
Native USB 3.0 read (MB/s)
Native USB 3.0 write (MB/s)
Discrete USB 3.0 read (MB/s)
Discrete USB 3.0 write (MB/s)
Best scores are bolded. We used a Core i7-3770K, 8GB of DDR3/1866 set at DDR3/1600, a WD Raptor 150, a GeForce GTX 580, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional in all of our motherboards. SATA 6Gb/s speeds were measured with CrystalDiskMark 3.01 and an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD. USB 3.0 speeds were measured with CrystalDiskMark and a Patriot Wildfire SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure using an Asmedia controller. 32GB compliance was measured with four 8GB DDR3 modules.