MSI Z77A-GD65 (soundquality + overclocking)


At the moment I am planning to build a new computer, but I dont know what to do if it comes to choose( :o ) the right motherboard.

My old computer has (also) been used for playing high quality (stereo) music (.flac). I bought for that one a M-Audio Audiophile 2496 soundcard (the standard realtek was ok but not good enough) which gave and gives perfect stereosound (which I prefer). This card was connected to my amplipfier with coax.

My new computer will also been used for gaming. I'd like to overclock a bit (I am new with it) and the MSI Z77A-GD65 comes with an oc-genieII: press a button on the motherboard and the system will have a extra performance of 11% (in different tests they say it works great!). No hard work for overclocking!

The coax connection on the MSI Z77A-GD65 is the only board offering it. Other brands do only come with optical digital sound. But thats the problem: my amplifier does have coax digital and doenst have optica connectionsl. So I am stuck to coax connections (buying a new amplifier is not the solution!)

The other problem is: if the sound quality is a bit disappointing i can't put in my old soundcard: its PCI, the MSI board offers only pci-e.....

My question is:

- Does anyone know if the soundquality of the MSI Z77A-GD65 is really good (yes I am an audiphile), comes close to the M-audiocard?

- Is it better to buy a different motherboard with a PCI slot so I can use my m-audiocard? In that case overclocking is getting harder, cause MSI is only offering a automatic overclock..... Or do you know which board is easy or has an automatic OC function.

Well I hope someone can help me out!
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More about z77a gd65 soundquality overclocking
  1. Well you will find it hard to find a current board with a pci slot they r being phased out,but there are some asus boards with baughter audio cards and some boards with decent onboard like soundblaster xfi's. You just gotta look around at spects...
  2. Thanks for the reactions. Ive check out all specifications. Even the best onboard soundcard doesnt get close te a M-audio soundcard.

    M-audio frequency response:
    22Hz-22kHz, -0.4, +/-0.4dB
    dynamic range: 104dB (A-weighted) (D/A)
    100.4dB (A-weighted) (A/D)
    THD: < 0.002%

    Closed i saw was asus dynamic range: 94dbA, thd: 0.003%

    So I think i will look for a different motherboard with PCI in it.

    Which one is the easiest to overclock with? Are they from asus?

  3. You may find this information to be more useful to you than it was to me. ;)

  4. No expert here, but I thought coax just passes the digital signal to your amplifier, meaning your amplifier/ av receiver does all the work (..meaning a motherboard has no influence on the sound if you use the coax out?

    Or do the different motherboard specs produce different coloring on the sound that is sent out through the coax cable? Love to learn from this topic :)

    Btw I also bought this MSI board because it has the ALC 898 chip (and I also use the coax out), but I cannot really tell the difference from my old 2007 cuba msi ms 7301 motherboard (I also used the coax out on this one). I would love to buy a separate soundcard that can handle DTS 'on the fly' or something like that. Don't know if these cards exist in pci-e though...
  5. Thanks! It was all clear te me. I think a coax (digital) signal will be the same on all the boards. It is wat the amp does with it!

    I stay with the onboard msi coax.

  6. Hello, thought I'd add my two cents worth as a design engineer:

    First: If your using a digital coax, your audio quality won't degrade unless you are using a cable which is so terrible that the parasitic properties of the cable cause edge skewing and introduce bit error rates. Basically if your using a digital output, the quality of the DAC doesn't matter to you because you will not be using it to begin with (quality measurements are taken from the point where the digital compressed or uncompressed audio is uncompressed and then converted to analog). The chipset on the Z77-GD65 is capable of higher bandwidth audio than the SPDIF digital coax format is capable of transmitting so this is not your bottle neck if your running digital coax. Since you would not be converting your signal to analog by using a digital coax output, this does not matter. Sound cards/chipsets will have some options to digitally manipulate the file and add equalization but they do not degrade the quality of audio files.

    Second: I Looked at the Z77-GD65 and tracked down the datasheet for the audio chip set they are using:

    HD audio (32 bit) input compliant with 24 bit output DAC capable of up to 192kHz samaple (4x samples/second) (you'll notice i'm purposefully avoiding THD, ETC.)

    what this means: the chip itself is capable of recieving files which are sampled 192 thousand times a second at a resolution of 32 bits. This is a pointless number because A: noise introduced by any type of digital to analog conversion is going to make any degree of acuracy beyond 24 bits pointless (the best DACs in the world will NOT re-produce true 24 bits worth of accuracy on the output). This HD audio is mainly a marketing scheme to make you feel like you are getting more than you are.

    Now, that being said, the audio output is advertised as 110db Signal-Noise. If you amplify the voltage level after this you will inevitebly add so much noise onto the signal that the amount of noise generated by the DAC will be insignificant and more likely depend on the noise figure of your amplifier and not a 24bit DAC. (you will probably end up with around 70-80 signal to noise).

    192kHz is the max frequency and is overkill in any application.

    In a Nut Shell: In any situation, I doubt the Z77-GD65 is going to be your limiting factor when driving an external amp. You can argue against smaller 16 bit delta-sigmas or compare output amplifiers, but the quality is going to depend more on the speakers and amplifier you are using by well over a thousand fold. I see no reason an ALC898 wouldn't be able to re-create the exact same end-quality audio as any other chipset on the market.
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