For the purposes of this article, we acquired a handful of Z77 Express-based motherboards to give you all an idea as to what type of boards would be hitting the scene when the Z77 Express is first made available.
First up, we have the MSI Z77A-GD65. Like the other Z77 Express-based motherboards we’ll be featuring here, all of the Z77 chipset’s features are available on the MSI Z77A-GD65, but MSI works a bit of their own magic as well. The MSI Z77A-GD65 features a mouse-friendly UEFI “Click BIOS II” that’s much easier to navigate than traditional text-based BIOS menus (more on this later). The board is also in MSI’s “Military Class III” family and features super ferrite chokes, highly conductive polymer capacitors and / or solid capacitors throughout, which should offer increased stability and longevity, as well as lower total power consumption. The Z77A-GD65 also has a digital PWM for more efficient power delivery.
The MSI Z77A-GD65 also supports “1 second overclocking” thanks to its OC Genie feature and button, but the UEFI sports all of the overclocker-friendly features we’ve come to expect from MSI for manual tweaking as well. MSI also includes their new Instant OC Control Center software which gives users the ability the monitor and control system parameters from within Windows, with no need to reboot when making changes.
Other features of the MSI Z68A-GD80 include USB3.0 and CrossFire / SLI support, integrated voltage check-points, and “Super Charger” which allows users to charge USB devices even when the system is powered down. We found the layout of the MSI Z68A-GD805 to be quite good and also like the dark blue and black features on the board, although all of the boards we look at here have similar color schemes too.
MSI includes plenty of documentation with the Z77A-GD65, in addition to an I/O shield, drive and utility CD, an SLI bridge, four SATA cables, front panel quick connectors, and extension leads for the integrated voltage checkpoints. There’s nothing over the top about the board’s bundle, but all of the necessities are there.