With CeBIT getting underway in Germany, manufacturers are taking the wraps off of their Z77 motherboards. MSI are preparing to release their boards, one of which is the Z77A-GD65 which we are going to preview today.
We still have some time remaining before the official launch of the Z77 platform (April 8th) and new Intel CPU's (April 29th). However that's not stopping motherboard manufacturers from showing off their ranges of Z77 boards. Now that CeBIT is underway, every company will be proudly displaying their wares. One of the boards to come into the lab is the MSI Z77A-GD65. It is, of course, a Z77 motherboard supporting processors compatible with Socket 1155. That means the whole LGA1155 Sandy Bridge range and more importantly, 3rd generation 22nm Core i7 desktop processors due in the not too distant future.
First up we check out the retail packaging. The design is nearly identical to the company's X79 range with its "Military Class III" components being the prominent theme. The back of the box is chock full of the featured technologies of the board.
There aren't any real surprises when looking at the bundled accessories. We have user manuals and a installation guide, driver CD, I/O panel, single SLi connector, four SATA cables, front panel connectors, a set of wires to connect a digital multimeter to the voltage read points and finally a official-looking certificate detailing the range of stress tests the board components have passed.
The board itself looks good and features MSI's iconic blue on black theme. The layout is generally sound although an extra fan header to complement the single one at the bottom of the board would be nice. The PCIe slot layout is fine, with at least one 1x slot available even in a triple GPU setup. We also have a total of eight SATA ports, four of which are 3GB/s with the other four supporting 6GB/s.
Taking a look at some of the controller chips, we have a gigabit Intel 82579V chip taking care of a single LAN port with audio support provided by a standard Realtek ALC898 controller. The two extra SATA ports are controlled by a ASMedia ASM1061 supporting SATA 6GB/s. There is a board header for a firewire connector that is controlled by a VIA VT6315N chip. There is no need for a supplementary USB 3.0 chip as it is now integrated into the Panther Point PCH, which the board offers up to four such ports.