MSI Z77A-GD65 Review: Military Class for Ivy Bridge
The Z77A-GD65's back i/o panel can be described as minimalist but adequate. MSI chose not to deploy additional 3rd party controllers, so we get only four USB 2.0/two USB 3.0 ports which is serviced by the Z77 PCH. There is also triple display (Analog, DVI and HDMI) and the inclusion of a legacy PS/2 port, clearly aimed at overclockers in mind wanting to conserve every available CPU interrupt for the benchmarks.
Gigabit Ethernet connectivity is handled by an no-frills Intel 82579V PHY, a welcome choice over other mediocre Realtek and Marvell controllers of yesteryears.
Finally, the integrated audio is from a bog standard Realtek ALC898 codec, quite a common sight on the current generation of boards in the market. MSI has also bundled Creative's THX TruStudio PRO software suite with the board, which should provide some aural voodoo.
At the other end of the board, there is a right angled USB 3.0 connector and eight SATA ports, four of them of the 6Gb/s variety.
The Z77A-GD65 proves its enthusiast credentials with the inclusion of a PORT-80h diagnostic display and dual BIOS, which is useful for experimentation.
Like most other Z77 offerings, the MSI board has three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, capable of single x16 or x8+x8 or x8+x4+x4 operation when used with a Ivy Bridge processor.
Surprisingly all three PCIe x16 slots have full x16 solder points behind. We didn't spot anything prone to electrical shorts when mounted in a tight case.