MSI Z87 GD65 Gaming Review
Now and again a motherboard appears that is so obviously brilliant, and so affordable, that we wonder if anything will be able to top it. For a while that crown was held by the ASUS Sabertooth, both in X58 and then P67 variants. Then MSI stole the crown with the Z77 MPower. Looking at the Z87 GD65 Gaming we think it's going to take something extraordinary to top it, such is the perfect storm of price, performance, features and looks.
Let's start with the aesthetic. It's a gorgeous looking thing. The all black PCB and slots, with red aluminium for the heatsinks really looks stunning. The black and red combination has been part of Hot Rodding for years which shows how popular it was long before computers were around. Since the initial explosion of enthusiast based motherbooards used it as their colour scheme of choice it's such a classic combination that even if you're sick of it you can't deny it looks the business. It's not just about the colours either, as the design of the heatsinks is a serious touch of detail in an area that is usually only this heavily customised on motherboards costing twice as much.
It's not all show no go though. The board is crammed with technologies too. 8 SATA 6Gbps ports lead us off. We commented when SATA 6Gbps first appeared why anybody stuck with the plain SATA 3Gbps ports because it's backwards compatible, so it's nice to see the latest generation MSI offering has seen the SATA II ports go the way of the floppy/IDE connectors. Sound has moved on to the aptly-named RealTek ALC1150 chip and when combined with the Creative Soundblaster Cinema you'll have to be a very demanding audiophile to justify a soundcard these days.
The switch to Military Class 4 has given us an extremely ready overclocker too. You're always thermally limited when overclocking and the i7-4770K is one of the most demanding around. Considering the amount of cooling we're using we think that although the GD65 is capable of bringing 5GHz from our i7-4770K you'd need a proper water loop to make the most of it.
Performance is outstanding. The stock results were a particular highlight. We know a lot of people still just like to put their CPU in and go, without overclocking it first. Despite how easy it is these days we know that the fear factor still exists. So you'll be glad to know that the MSI Z87 GD65 Gaming really rocks hard even at stock settings. Naturally the overclocking is blistering too, with some OC3D records broken.
If you didn't know, or hadn't looked at the top of this review, then you'd expect a motherboard with such high-end performance and brilliant features would be akin to the £300 beasts of yore, so to find it at a frankly astonishing £157 is the final cherry on what is already the tastiest cake around. We can't find fault with it. Yes if we were really nit-picky we'd like to see a couple of extra USB ports on the back, largely because with phones and iPods etc we've got more USB devices than we have storage ones. But that would be akin to complaining after the finest meal you've ever eaten that you weren't overly fond of the mints that came with your coffee. Sure it's a niggle, but the rest of it is so brilliant we don't care.
MSI have laid the gauntlet down to all the other manufacturers. Gorgeous to look at, blistering performance and all at a very affordable price, the MSI Z87 GD65 Gaming is not only the new benchmark for Z87 motherboards, but probably for all motherboards.