MSI treaded on new waters with the release of the GAMING series of motherboards. With the motherboard market in an anxious state over Haswell, MSI regardless unleashed the dragon with the Z77 GAMING series along with graphics cards and an AIO with much positive reception even though it was faced with much criticism over the looks and branding being a direct rip of the already established ROG line. MSI made it a point to differentiate its products in many ways as possible and when the noise died down and Haswell came out, it was sure that MSI was going all-out with their revamped series branding. We’ll be touring the MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard, the top-end in the MSI GAMING series of boards. Read on!
The packaging for the GAMING series of boards features MSI’s Dragoon logo adorning the black and red box. Contrary to the G1.Sniper, GIGABYTE’s gaming board, the MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING has a more stylized packaging featuring more flare but nothing that makes the packaging look busy. Focusing on the concept of what gamers really need, MSI focused on audio, LAN and performance for this brand as seen in the back of the box.
The MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING features a light package with SATA cables, multi-GPU connectors, an I/O shield. Non-standard additions would be the voltage checkpoint leads and the front panel labeled connectors and most specially, an embossed sticker of the MSI Dragoon logo. Also brought to my attention is a door hanger which appears to not have been in this sample when we received it.
The rear I/O ports feature what should be staple mid-range connectivities for today’s standards with USB2.0 ports for peripherals, a legacy PS/2 port, an optical out and SPDIF out, HDMI, DVI and VGA for video output, 6 channel audio output powered off the Realtek ALC1150 chip, 4 USB3.0 ports, and finally a red-highlighted LAN port powered off the E2200 LAN chip.
The MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING has onboard buttons placed in an uncommon place: the lower left half of the board usually resting above the PSU and just below a GPU in multi-GPU setups. Definitely not the best placement option for the power and reset buttons. The OC Genie button is also together with them with a OC Switch to toggle the OC Genie function. A Go2Bios is also present to directly jump to the BIOS during boot. A debug LED is also present for easier troubleshooting.
Eight (8) SATAIII ports are present in the MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING board along with a front-facing USB3.0 header. Two of the eight SATAIII ports are powered off an ASMedia controller. When using the mSATA slot, port SATA6 will be disable as highlighted by that sticker on the SATA ports. Also a bit hidden is the BIOS toggle switch allowing switching between the main bios and the backup bios. Good for users who want to test out a new BIOS before using it daily.
Just above the 24-pin PSU connector we can see the voltage checkpoints. You can use the included leads to easily connect the multimeter probes to the checkpoints.
Definitely the signature of the GAMING line, the heatsink features an engraved Dragoon logo to round out the design of the board but wait…
The heatsinks themselves brandish the Dragoon styling although not visible from above.
The Dragoon heatsinks cool a 12-phase PWM complemented by MSI’s SFCs (super-ferrite chokes) and solid caps. From this angle we can also appreciate the dark PCB coloring but on a different angle, lo and behold…
THE SHIPBROWN PCB! For a while now Kingston has been getting flak for not using black PCBs and already gave in to the demand releasing black PCB versions of its HyperX products. MSI and AsRock though are on a tug-of-war on who pulls off the best optical illusion. We certainly appreciate MSI’s visual styling and we understand that they need to keep the cost down but please get rid of the brown PCB. A premium product such as this do not deserve ridicule over the color of its PCB. The Mpower Z77 managed to use a matte black PCB and stay within an acceptable price range, we question why the sudden reversion in the Z87-GD65 GAMING?
We’ll have the full review ready soon.