MSI Z68A GD65 G3 Review
So how does the GD65 stack up?
One issue we initially had was our gaming mouse which we use on our test rig acted completely crazy in the BIOS and we had to resort to a dusty old generic number to be able to use the BIOS, even on the latest update. Speaking of which the "Live Update 5" software which handles driver and BIOS updates neither spotted the two BIOS revisions that have occurred since the release of the GD65 G3 nor does it have a way to manually update via a download file. USB stick in the main BIOS is the only way to do it, which does render the Live Update software pretty useless.
The OC Genie II was as brilliant as it's always been getting our i5-2500K to run at a rock solid 4.3GHz just by pressing a button. If you're uncomfortable with overclocking manually, although the ease of Sandy Bridge should mean that's nobody, then you can gain a 1GHz overclock using the MSI board. That's only 400MHz shy of our best efforts which for such an easy option shows that MSI still lead the field when it comes to simple overclocking for the masses.
Once everything was up and running though initial results weren't very encouraging. Despite a good overclock the end results in the synthetic tests were quite average. Thankfully as we moved through into the everyday tests of browsing and gaming the GD65 came up trumps.
The PC Mark scores were neck and neck with the Sniper 2 which costs, let's not forget, twice as much. Whilst the size of the score itself can be attributed to the immense benefits that the Intel Rapid Storage Technology gives when compared to a pure mechanical drive alone, the fact that the Z68A-GD65 G3 can keep up with the Sniper 2 despite giving away 100MHz in CPU power is very good indeed.
Things improve still further when we ran 3D Mark. Much has been made in MSI literature of the difference that the MSI PCIe Gen3 Switches make and Vantage certainly didn't show any benefits. However the 3D Mark 11 score was comprehensively better, giving us the highest GTX570 scores we've yet seen.
So all in all it's quite difficult to pin the GD65 down. From some angles, PC Mark 7, 3D Mark 11 and AIDA64 it seems to be a great performer. However in both PC Mark and 3D Mark Vantage it was on par with the best, and yet in CineBench and Sandra it was a fair bit slower than most of the competition. Our overclock was good, but not spectacular and the GD65 needed the voltages to be higher than many other boards we've tested. It's reasonably priced at around £150, but looks a little spartan. In fact the main selling point of the GD65 G3 is its potential compatibility with hardware that doesn't yet exist.
Looking at the board today, with current hardware and the plethora of superb LGA1155 boards around we think that if you picked up the Z68A GD65 G3 you'd be happy and could do a lot worse. For the money you're very much getting a good solid board that wont disappoint but wont particularly wow you either. Solid can be a very attractive quality and for that, when coupled to the always brilliant OC Genie II, we're awarding the MSI Z68A-GD65 G3 our Silver Award.