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MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard Review

By on March 21, 2012
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Prepare for the Ivy Bridge.

Good: Native PCIe 3.0 and USB 3.0 support, easy overclocking, all the features and benefits of the Z68 chipset
Bad: No visible performance increase of Z68 chipset for Sandy bridge CPUs
Price: AED 750
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Z77 Chipset

The MSI Z77A-GD55 marks the introduction of the first Intel Z77 based motherboard we will be reviewing in the coming months. The Z77 chipsets are actually made for the upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs, but the socket remains the same as Sandy Bridge, i.e. LGA 1155.

The Z77 chipset is quite literally the next-generation upgrade to the Z68 chipset released last year for Sandy Bridge CPUs. On the Z77 you can overclock your processor, memory as well as integrated GPU just like the Z68. Similarly the chipset supports the same number of SATA 2 and SATA 3 ports (4 and 2 respectively). Intel’s Smart Response Technology which uses SSD caching is also present on the Z77 chipset.

The real upgrades come in the form of USB 3.0 support. Where Z68 supported up to 14x USB 2.0 ports, Z77 has them divided by 10x USB 2.0 and 4x USB 3.0 ports. But this is an irrelevant upgrade as most motherboard manufacturers have been supporting USB 3.0 on Intel boards using Marvell controllers over the past two years.

Packaging

That said, the major advantage every PC enthusiast is looking forward to in Z77 motherboards is PCIe 3.0 expansion slots, an upgrade last seen only on Sandy Bridge-E X79 motherboards. With PCIe 3.0 the bandwidth of graphics card literally doubles that of PCIe 2.0 slots; at least in theory.

So let’s see what comes along with this shiny new motherboard from MSI. Since this is the GD55 version of the Z77A chipset, most of the extra accessories is reserved for some of their higher-end models, like the GD65. What we get are 4x SATA cables, an SLI bridge, a rear I/O panel, drivers CD and installation guide books.

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About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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