MSI Z68A-GD65 B3
Once again, the MSI Z68A-GD65 is based on a P67 motherboard design, the P67A-GD65 by the same manufacturer. The design and features are relatively similar. The MSI mobo PCB is not as busy as the Asus motherboard PCB but is relatively well-aired, like the Gigabyte card.
There’s a 6+2 phase regulation circuit for the CPU power supply, under which there’s a radiator. It uses a UT257 controller (8 phases).
The two PCI Express x16 ports are controlled by ASMedia 1430 switches and there are also three PCI Express x1 ports connected directly to the lanes exposed by the Z68 chipset. Again, like the Gigabyte mobo, MSI don’t use any additional PCI Express switches. The two traditional PCI ports are managed by an ASMedia PCIe to PCI bridge, the ASM1083 that is also used on the Asus and ASRock motherboards.
For the USB connectors MSI has gone for the NEC/Renasas D720200A controllers. There are two on the board and they each power two USB 3.0 ports, making a total of four.
MSI is using a Marvell controller for storage to add two Serial ATA 6 Gb/s ports but the card does not have an eSATA port.
The network controller, relatively standard, is the Realtek RTL8111E connected at PCI Express 1.1.
The rear panel includes a PS/2 port and four USB 2.0 ports managed by the chipset. There are two USB 3.0 ports (from the same Renasas controller) as well as a Gigabit Ethernet connector. For your sound, there are six assignable jacks and two S/PDIF outs, one an optical and the other coaxial, which will be appreciated by audiophiles. As with the majority of other cards, the sound is managed by a Realtek ALC892 controller.
MSI supplies the following video outs: VGA, DVI (single link) and HDMI. You can use two of the three at the same time. Note, this mobo also has a button to reset the BIOS. It's much less accessible than the one used on the ASRock board and you’re therefore not as likely to press on it by mistake.
MSI is relatively generous when it comes to switches on its board, with, in addition to the power and reset buttons, there’s an OC genie button for MSI's automatic system overclocking which we'll come back to later in this roudup. Note also, the slightly gadgety series of leds which tell you the number of phases being used. Overclockers will however appreciate the voltage read points. You can read the processor, CPU_VTT, IGP, memory and chipset voltages.
For the rest the connectors included on the card allow you to add six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an RS-232 port and a TPM module connector. There are also five connectors for fans, of which two are 4-pin connectors. Three can be controlled from the BIOS.
The bundle that comes with the card is relatively minimal but contains the essential. There’s a manual with a guide for installation, the functioning of the BIOS and the additional software.
For the rest, MSI supplies four Serial ATA cables, an SLI bridge, a Molex 4 pin to SATA power supply adaptor. There’s also a PCI USB 3.0 bracket (2 port).