Articles: Mainboards

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Like other mainboard makers, Micro-Star International prepared well for the arrival of Ivy Bridge processors and the ne 7th series chipsets. The company uses very intuitive naming principles for their products that is why it is very easy to line up the six mainboard models on Intel Z77 Express chipset they have in their product range depending on their features and functionality. The lineup (from the top) starts with the MSI Z77A-GD80 and ends with the junior Z77A-G43 and the microATX Z77MA-G45.

Today we will not go to extremes, and will discuss one of the top MSI offerings – Z77A-GD65. As usual, we will talk about the packaging and accessories, PCB layout and features, BIOS functionality. We will also touch upon MSI’s proprietary software bundle, check out the mainboard’s performance and power consumption in nominal mode as well as during overclocking. Following our tradition, let’s start with the packaging and accessories included with the board.

Packaging and Accessories

The box with MSI Z77A-GD65 features pretty traditional design. There are a lot of logotypes on the front of the box with a large round emblem in the very center reminding you that the board uses only high-quality “Military Class III” components.

The back of the box provides brief information about some features and functionality of this mainboard. MSI Z77A-GD65 is bundled with the following accessories:

  • Four Serial ATA cables with metal connector locks, half with L-shaped locks and another half - with straight ones;
  • A flexible bridge for 2-way Nvidia SLI graphics configurations;
  • I/O Shield for the back panel;
  • “M-Connector” block including modules for easy connection of the system case front panel buttons, indicators and audio;
  • “V-Check Cable” adapter set for manual voltage monitoring with a voltmeter;
  • User manual;
  • A booklet on proprietary software;
  • Illustrated overclocking guide;
  • A booklet with brief assembly instructions;
  • A poster with overclocking recommendations;
  • Reliability certificate listing all component testing methods;
  • DVD disk with software and drivers.

 This is a pretty long list mostly due to a variety of documents included with the mainboard. As for the actual hardware items, there are few of them included with the board, as you can see from the photograph above. One of the typical drawbacks of many Micro-Star mainboards is the absence of en external module for the system case front panel with the USB 3.0 ports. But this time we also didn’t find any brackets for the system case back panel. We are going to get back to this matter a little later today when we talk about the mainboard back panel ports and connectors, and you will understand why we specifically stressed this point now.

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