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MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Review (w/ 4770k / HD7990 / 2,933mhz DDR3)

The MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX is certainly able to battle against the ASUS and GIGABYTE boards we have reviewed last weekend. The box presentation is fantastic and the bundle is the best of the three we have had for review. MSI include everything but the kitchen sink with the MPOWER MAX.

The board layout is fantastic, and we like how MSI have added the ASMedia ASM1061 controller to increase SATA drive support from six, to eight. If you have many mechanical storage drives and a couple of Solid State Drives this will be certainly welcomed.

The Z87 chipset no longer has SATA 3Gbps ports – hugely beneficial as it means you no longer have to check that you are using the full speed ports for modern Solid State drives.

The MSI bios is almost as impressive as the new, completely overhauled Gigabyte BIOS. While it might not be as pretty, or as customisable – it is intuitive and everything works as expected. We had no problems getting stability with our 4770k at 4.5ghz, the everyday limit for this particular sample.

We got a post at 4.9ghz, but the processor requires too much voltage and the Corsair H100i in performance mode couldn’t cope with the PRIME load temperatures (over 100c). There is no point overclocking to a level which will damage the hardware. With high level cooling and a better Intel sample, we would imagine close to 5ghz would be possible with this board.

We had no problems running the Corsair Vengeance memory at 2,400mhz via the XMP profile, although the latest G.Skill Trident X 2,933mhz memory wouldn’t post with the default XMP profile enabled. We had to manually overclock the whole system to push the memory to 2,900mhz and beyond.

To be fair, the XMP profile on the 2,933mhz G.Skill memory hasn’t worked in the ASUS or Gigabyte Z87 boards either, however the ASUS board would post at 2,400mhz with the XMP profile enabled while the other boards would fail then recover to 1,333mhz with an alert.

The MSI board seemed the easiest to overclock, as we could post at 4.5ghz by simply increasing the CPU voltage to 1.225v after changing the turbo multipliers for each core ratio limit. None of the other BIOS power settings needed adjustment to get complete stability at the 1ghz overclocked settings.

We have mentioned before that we haven’t been hugely impressed with the 4770k processor when compared to the last generation 3770k. Intel are focusing on power management and while the 4770k is more powerful on a clock per clock basis, we have found that the 3770k samples we have all hit 4.8ghz or higher. When you have a 400mhz-500mhz clock advantage any initial benefits are negated.

We have been chatting with system builders and retailers such as PCSPECIALIST and ARIA over the last week and they are releasing overclocked systems between 4.2ghz and 4.4ghz. We have actually already reviewed one of them, over here.

There is simply too much of a stable variable from processor to processor to push any higher.

Integrated graphics performance may be a huge step forward for Intel, but gamers buying performance oriented motherboards like the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX will be pairing up the 4770k with a discrete solution.

If you are looking for a brand new system upgrade, and want a stable, highly overclockable motherboard with a plethora of connectivity and features then the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX should be right at the top of your shortlist. ARIA are stocking the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX for £218.99 inc vat.

Pros:

  • fantastic bundle.
  • built to overclock.
  • excellent memory performance with manual overclocking.
  • great BIOS design.
  • recovered well automatically from failed BIOS settings.

Cons:

  • didn’t accept the 2,933mhz XMP profile on the G.Skill memory.
  • stiff competition from the likes of Gigabyte and ASUS.

Kitguru says: We love this board – for the price it offers exceptionally good value for money.
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Rating: 9.0.

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