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WCCFTech Z97 Motherboard Round-Up OC Top
Hardware

Intel launched their Z97 platform earlier this year which brought new motherboards in the performance platform, aiming support for Haswell, Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon and the upcoming Broadwell CPUs. Intel’s Z97 platform is filled with a variety of boards and each board is targeted towards key segments.WCCFTech Z97 Motherboard Round-Up OC Top

Round-Up of The Best and Top-Tier Overclocking Z97 Motherboards

With such a large list of products that are currently offered in the Z97 chipset based product portfolio, it gets quite frustrating for consumers to find a board that suits their demands. To make it easier for consumers, the board manufacturing companies have separated their products into three categories; Gaming, Overclocking and Mainstream.  Although this helps a bit but even then, the products themselves offer similar specifications, naming schemes and priced equally.  For instance, the MSI Z97 Gaming 3 and Gigabyte GA-Z97X Gaming 3 are both gaming branded motherboards priced at $137.99 US and with “Gaming 3″ in the title, it would more or less confuse the buyer into deciding which product should be bought. While reviews do give a better insight at the products comparing the little details, features and components of products, we couldn’t find a good article which compares these boards against their similar priced counterparts from other manufacturers.

To address this issue and to help ease the process for buyers to get the right product, today we will be doing a round-up of the Z97 “Overclocking” motherboards. We will obviously not be comparing performance based on benchmarks but design schemes, feature set and the components used on these Z97 motherboards which will tell us why they are better than the other similar priced option or why does a $399 US overclocking board is a better option for enthusiasts then a $249 US overclocking board. The products we will be comparing are strictly the flagship overclocking boards from each separate manufacturer so you might see us talk about a XPOWER board and not the MPOWER board so please excuse me but that doesn’t mean that I won’t ever do a similar comparison on the other segment based boards, so stay tuned for that. Regardless, let’s start off these round – up with the beastly, Z97 XPOWER AC from MSI:

msi-970_gaming-product_pictures-boxshot-1-pcgh
Hardware

Taiwanese manufacturer MSI has launched today a new gaming board designed specially for AMD’s socket AM3+ processors. The board is based on AMD’s 970 Chipset. Socket AM3+ is an extension of the AM3 socket and is designed for processors utilizing AMD’s Bulldozer michroarchitecture. Processors utilizing the AM3+ socket include the FX series, the Phenom II and the Athlon II. The board offers many gaming and overclocking capabilities as well.

msi-970_gaming-product_pictures-3d2-pcgh

MSI 970 A Low Cost Performance Enhancer For AMD’s AM3+ Socket Processors. Can Accommodate Up To 32 GB Of DDR3 2133 RAM

MSI’s latest offering has many features catering to AMD’s socket AM3+ and that too at a low cost. The board is based on the comapny’s (AMD) 970 or RX980 chipset architecture and features four memory banks. The board has two PCI Express 2.0 x16 and two PCI Express 2.0 1x. In addition to this,it also has two classic PCI slots. Apart from the PCI lanes, the MSI 970 can also accommodate up to 32 GB of 2133 MHz DDR3. Support for crossfire is also included. Coming towards the internal composition of the MSI 970, the board has six SATA 3.0 ports. The MSI 970 also has two USB 3.0 and another six USB 2.0 ports. Externally, the board has a PS2 and an Ethernet ports. These are in addition to another two USB 3.0 and eight USB 2.0 ports. These are coupled with several audio jacks as well.

MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Featured
Hardware

Introduction

Last year, MSI introduced two distinct motherboards in their OC lineup, the Z87 MPOWER and Z87 XPOWER. With the launch of Intel’s 9-Series platform, MSI launched a new category of motherboards which are more powerful then ever and include tons of features built for a wide range of users that may include gamers, enthusiasts, overclockers and casual users.

With the launch of Intel’s Haswell Refresh platform, MSI introduced their second generation XPOWER board for the mainstream LGA 1150 socketed lineup known as the MSI Z97 XPOWER AC. The MSI Z97 XPOWER AC has been designed specifically for enthusiasts and overclockers and being the most feature packed motherboard of all the MSI Z97 product lineup. The motherboard is first an overclocking board which will let users overclock with no limits as indicated by the marketing team behind the XPOWER. The design speaks for itself with the amazing X scheme back in action and an E-ATX form factor size along with some cool new features that make it stand out from the rest of the Z97 motherboard crowd.

The other boards such as the MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX follow up which we reviewed last month has the same DNA at a lower cost of $259.99 US while the XPOWER AC retails at a hefty price of $399.99 US which is quite a lot asking price for it and enters in the more HEDT range of Intel’s X79 motherboards. So we are going to see if the MSI Z97 XPOWER AC is worth its price or not.

MSI-GeForce-GTX-780-Lighting-Graphics-Card
Hardware

It looks like MSI is preparing their next Twin Frozr cooling design dubbed as the Twin Frozr V for next generation of graphics cards. Computerbase took pictures of the prototype that was being showcased by MSI at Computex 2014.MSI Twin Frozr V GPU Cooler

MSI Prepares Twin Frozr V Cooler For Next Generation Graphics Cards

The MSI Twin Frozr cooler has come along way since its initial introduction in 2009 with the GeForce 200 series graphics cards. Since then, the cooler has evolved and we have seen four iterations of the design starting off the original Twin Frozr, Twin Frozr II, Twin Frozr III and the most recent Twin Frozr IV coolers. This year, MSI’s going to introduce the fifth iteration of the Twin Frozr family, known as the Twin Frozr V which will be adopted by next generation graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA.

Just like its predecessors, MSI’s Twin Frozr V will continue with the dual fan scheme adopting two 100mm PWM fans with propeller blade technology. The cooler shroud has been updated and looks a lot similar to the Tri-Frozr Lightning from MSI. The color scheme is hard to tell since this is just a prototype of the cooler. The past Twin Frozr coolers have featured Silver (Twin Frozr I), Silver / White (Twin Frozr II), Silver / Black (Twin Frozr III) while the current Twin Frozr IV variants include the Red / Black (Twin Frozr Gaming), Blue / Black (Twin Frozr Legacy), Yellow / Black (Twin Frozr Lightning) and Yellow / Black / Silver (Tri-Frozr Lightning).

MSI_Logo_600x600_2_o
Hardware

In addition to EVGA, MSI has also shown off their upcoming X99 motherboard prototype which makes use of the latest HEDT Express chipset.The Haswell-E platform which launches in September 2014 will feature the high-performance Core i7-5960X CPU featuring 8 Cores, 16 threads and a $999 US price tag.MSI X99 Motherboard

MSI X99 Motherboard Prototype Shown Off At Computex 2014

The MSI X99 motherboard is still an early prototype hence no name is mentioned but judging from the specs, I think that we might be looking at the next generation X99-GD65 motherboard since the design scheme is alot similar. The motherboard comes with the blue and black color scheme which is the traditional color scheme that MSI uses on their legacy motherboards.

From a technical perspective, the EVGA X99 motherboard features the LGA 2011-3 socket which is massive in size and supports Intel’s upcoming Haswell-E processors which include the Core i7-5960X, Core i7-5930K and Core i7-5820K. The motherboard is powered by an 8-Pin CPU power connector which provides juice to the socket while the 24-Pin ATX connector powers the rest of the board. The motherboard features a 16 Phase VRM design that offers Super Ferrite Chokes and Solid state capacitors that are part of the Military Class IV components. The X99 PCH sits beneath a smaller heatsink though this is just an early sample and the final heatsink would be much bigger and will look better.

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX Motherboard Box
Hardware

Introduction

The MSI Z97 MPower Max AC has been released at long last. Nine months have passed since the previous iteration of Micro-Star International’s (MSI) Z87 lineup came out to grace the people of the Master Overclocking Arena (MOA) with an unprecedented level of OC capacities that made it possible to achieve records in synthetic benchmarks. Something to give overclockers a sense of niche, a little bravado of design infused with righteous yellow elegance. Our very own Hassan Mujtaba gave the previous iteration a rare 9.6 in his review of the MSI Z87 MPower Max, making it that much more critical and harder for people who want to know what the MSI Z97 MPower Max AC is all about at the MSRP $259.99. The question that is on the minds of our readers and upgraders alike: is the Z97 version of the Mpower worth it for overclockers and enthusiasts alike?

MSI Z97 MPower Max AC Motherboard Video Review

Intel Logo
Hardware

This just in. Ahead of all the NDA violation drama, it seems that manufacturers have decided to ignore the NDA signing and release their Intel Z97 boards anyways. Intel is notoriously famous for secrecy when it comes towards companies using its design to make their products. We have seen several breaches of NDA this time round, first when we leaked MSI’s images of their boards based on the Z97. Blurred images were then provided by the manufacturer to the press. Then ASUS went one step ahead and officially decimated the NDA by releasing unedited pictures of its boards all over facebook. Well things have heated up it seems, and boards based on Intel’s Z97 have officially appeared on the retailing website.

z97 nda broken

Z97 Models Appear on Newegg (US). Several Other Retailers Around the World Also Make Listings

As it can be seen in the screenshot above, Newegg.com has started to list offerings of Z97 boards. Some important mentions include MSI’s flagship Z97 MPOWER Max AC which costs around $259, ASUS’ TUF Sabertooth Z97 at $249 and Gigabyte’s mid price range model at $149. This however is not the only listing of the boards.

Now ofcourse it could be a surprise, early NDA lift. Since so many retailers are now posting these motherboards ready to ship it would make little sense otherwise. I would be genuinely surprised if all the AIBs have done this without Intel’s consensus. Because NDA be damned forever if Intel does not know about this. The listings are popping up all over the world as we speak, this is quite possibly the first of its kind, early NDA lift.

MSI Zxx XPOWER AC Motherboard
Hardware

The MSI 9-Series has a massive motherboard lineup that’s headed to consumers next month and while we can’t talk about their specific chipset, we can show you pictures of the entire lineup which you would be looking at soon. Some motherboards such as the XPOWER, MPOWER MAX and Gaming series have already been detailed but we will take a deeper look in the design scheme of the new products.MSI 9-Series Motherboards

MSI 9-Series Motherboard Round-Up – OC, GAMING Lineups

First, we will detail the MSI OC series which includes three new products including the flagship XPOWER AC and MPOWER MAX AC motherboards. MSI introduced their MPOWER and XPOWER brands to the mainstream lineup last year with the Z87 chipset and are relaunching an improved version this year that makes of Intel’s latest 9-Series chipset. So let’s get on with the OC 9-Series Motherboard lineup from MSI which includes 3 motherboards listed below:

  • MSI XPOWER AC
  • MSI MPOWER MAX AC
  • MSI MPOWER
MSI_Logo_600x600_2_o
Hardware

MSI has revealed the pictures of their next generation XPOWER AC and MPOWER MAX AC motherboards which will feature built-in water cooling solutions. The pictures teased by MSI on their Facebook page showcase a new and improved design scheme for the flagship 9-Series chipset based XPOWER and MPOWER motherboards which will be aimed directly towards overclocking enthusiasts while the gaming lineup will be focused towards gamers.MSI XPOWER AC

MSI’s Next Generation XPOWER AC and MPOWER MAX AC Motherboards Pictured

Now, we have talked a lot regarding the MSI 9-Series motherboard lineups over the past few weeks since they have been releasing teasers on their Facebook page and even displayed some prototypes of their Next Gen chipset motherboards during CeBIT 2014. Well those were just prototypes and we couldn’t really make up as to exactly what features do these new boards support. From the few teaser images, we did make up that the new boards will come with interesting design and new features V-Check Points 2, OC Engine, Military Class IV components, Delid Die Guard (XPOWER AC), M.2 interface, Audio Boost 2 and last but not least, new design schemes.

So let’s get on with the OC 9-Series Motherboard lineup from MSI which includes a total of 6 motherboards listed below:

  • MSI XPOWER AC
  • MSI MPOWER MAX AC
  • MSI MPOWER

Update - MSI has contacted us that the bug has been fixed through a new BIOS that was rolled out at the start of this month. The issue was related to AMD drivers and MSI’s double PWM fan control system on the TriFrozr graphics cooler. For those running MSI’s Radeon R9 290X Lightning, you can download the following BIOS file and update your cards using the LiveBIOS utility to ensure optimal performance.

http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R9_290X_LIGHTNING.html#/?div=Utility&os=Win8.1

[Report] At Hawaii’s launch there were multiple jokes about it running too hot. Well, if you are an MSI R9 290X Lightning owner then the joke might become a harsh reality for you. It turns out that a bug that ails only the 290X Lightning’s stops both side fans from working, causing severe heating issues. We were first notified of this critical malfunction by reader Greg Mann and a simple forum search revealed that the problem was rampant in practically every MSI Lightning (R9 290X) out there. At the time of writing, AMD has been notified of the problem.

Lightning R9 290X Catalyst 14.3 Fan Bug Overheating

Catalyst 14.3 Beta Drivers causes critical fan malfunction in MSI Lightning R9 290X

Catalyst 14.3 Driver Issue causes Side Fans of the MSI R9 290X Lightning to Stop Working

Thankfully however, from what we can see in the forum responses at least, all owners noticed the problem quickly enough and stopped any GPU intensive activity while downgrading to a safe Catalyst version. It is worth noting here that the Catalyst 14.3 is a BETA driver and AMD has warned about bugs like this on practically every documentation available.  However from a cursory glance this issue has been prevalent in even 14.2 BETA drivers. Here is the hierarchy of the problem:

  • Catalyst 14.3: Causes critical malfunction of side fans not functioning and middle fan locked at 30%. Manual override using MSI Afterburner or Catalyst Control Not possible. The result is almost certain damage to the GPU if it is put under continuous, heavy load.
  • Catalyst 14.2: Causes the auto feature to malfunction, resulting in the side fans not spinning up and increasing RPM when GPU is put under load. The result is inadequate cooling and overheating. Manual override is possible.
  • Catalyst 13.12: Everything works fine.
MSI-Z97-Gaming-9-AC-Motherboard-635x397
Hardware

Today, we have a interesting leak regarding MSI’s upcoming gaming 9-Series motherboard lineup which is expected to launch next month. As you all may have noticed from our reports, Intel will launch their next-gen 9-Series chip-set on 11th May which will include the latest Haswell Refresh processors and the new 9-Series boards which will debut on the same date.MSI-Zxx-Gaming-9-AC-Motherboard 9-Series

MSI 9-Series Motherboard Gaming Lineup Leaked – Includes 6 Board

Now, we have talked a lot regarding the MSI 9-Series motherboard lineups over the past few weeks since they have been releasing teasers on their Facebook page and even displayed some prototypes of their Next Gen chipset motherboards during CeBIT 2014. Well those were just prototypes and we couldn’t really make up as to exactly what features do these new boards support. From the few teaser images, we did make up that the new boards will come with interesting design and new features V-Check Points 2, OC Engine, Military Class IV components, Delid Die Guard (XPOWER AC), M.2 interface, Audio Boost 2 and last but not least, new design schemes. Well, today we have the entire 9-Series motherboard lineup for you to feast your eyes upon which are detailed below. Do note that these 9-Series chipset based boards listed below are the Gaming tier boards from MSI and we are yet to see their overclocking (MPOWER/XPOWER) and legacy lineup which will be unveiled a few days prior to launch.

So let’s get on with the Gaming 9-Series Motherboard lineup from MSI which includes a total of 6 motherboards listed below:

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Hardware

MSI has teased their upcoming flagship Z97 XPOWER AC motherboard on their Facebook page detailing several of its impressive features. The Z97 chipset motherboards are expected to hit the market around 10th May as hinted in several leaks earlier and will debut along with the Haswell Refresh processors replacing the current CPU lineup.MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Delid Die Guard

MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Flagship Motherboard To Support Delid Haswell Processors

When Intel launched their 8-Series platform, we saw an abundance of OC and Gaming motherboard from several manufacturer’s. Boasting unique and impressive design, features and specifications, the Z87 chipset based boards were an overclockers and gamers dream. The Haswell processors on the other hand brought several design and process enhancements plus featuring support for new and improved overclocking features but heat issues kept a lot of users from fully utilizing the OC potential of these chips. Only users who had either beastly water/air cooled PCs were able to churn some impressive OC numbers out of their chips while the rest of the audience was happy running it either on stock or around a easy 4 – 4.5 GHz clock speed.

During that time and Ivy Bridge before it that also had heating issues, several enthusiasts had started to use Delid processors which was the process to remove the heat-spreader off of the CPU so that the cooler base could make a direct contact with the core die to enable greater cooling to be directed towards the CPU. This eliminated the heating issues caused by the use of a low-quality TIM between the heatspreader of the Haswell and Ivy Bridge CPUs although a little blame has also had to be put on the FVIR design on these chips. But nevertheless, the high-end enthusiast market had find a way to tackle the issue. Some retailers even started selling pre-delid processors which showcased their demand by the enthusiast community.

Intel Haswell Refresh
Hardware

Just a few weeks back, we brought you the news that a few motherboard manufacturer’s have showed off their upcoming Z97 motherboards. The motherboards displayed by the vendors were only prototype and didn’t show any specific features of the next generation design but companies have started to tease these features over the recent days which look impressive.Gigabyte Z97 GA-Z97X-UD5H

Motherboard Vendors Tease Upcoming Z97 Motherboards

Intel’s 9-Series chipset details were leaked a few days back showing that there would be two SKUs, the Z97 and the H97 chipset. As expected, there’s little difference in the feature set of the 9-Series chipset when compared with 8-Series. Both feature support for Haswell and Haswell Refresh processors on the LGA1150 socket. There’s only a few changes such as support for PCIe M.2 interface, extra USB / SATA ports and a few changes here and there. While Intel’s Haswell and Haswell Refresh series are supported by both chipsets, its only the 9-Series that will support Intel’s next generation Devil’s Canyon and Broadwell processors. Devil’s Canyon which is the code-name used for Intel’s K-Series Haswell Refresh processors are targeted towards compatibility with just 9-Series while the 14nm Broadwell K-Series which feature the impressive Iris Pro graphics chip will also be supported by the same chipset series. So if you are aiming for overclocking Intel’s next generation bad boys, then a 9- Series Z97 motherboard is a must to get your hands on.

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Hardware

MSI just announced upgrades to its GS70 Stealth gaming laptop. The upgraded version now contains the Nvidia GeForce 870M, which is an upgrade from the previous GeForce GTX 765M. The GS70 Stealth claims to be the world’s thinnest 17 inch portable gaming machine.

Eric Kuo, VP Global Sales and Marketing MSI points out a myriad of innovative features in the GS70 Stealth.

MSI_GS70_Stealth_02The GS70 Stealth comes equipped with the 4th Gen. Inter Core i7-4700HQ. The processor packs a base frequency of 2.4 GHz with turbo boost speeds going up to 3.4 GHz. In the graphics department it now features the  GTX 870M with 3 GB DDR5 VRAM. The  GTX 870M is 35% faster than the GTX 770M on the 3D Mark 11 performance benchmark.

Other features on the GS70 Stealth include the Super Raid 2, the SteelSeries engine, SteelSeries gaming keyboard and the Matrix display. The Super Raid 2 contains 3 Solid state drives and gives writing speeds up to 1500 Mb/s. According to MSI it is 3 times faster than other laptops employing single SSDs and 15 times faster than conventional drives.

The SteelSeries engine allows full customization of keys and other specific commands of an individual gamer. It allows users to create individual styles using personal key use and functions, plus integration of peripheral devices. The SteelSeries keyboard is a specially designed keyboard for MSI. The keyboard comes with five different backlight scenarios and seven different types of light changes.

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Hardware

NVIDIA is preparing to launch their next series of mobility chips codenamed the GeForce GTX 800M at CeBIT 2014. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 800M Mobility chips will feature four new chips which include the GTX 880M, 870M, 860M and the 850M which will power the high-performance notebooks in 2014.GeForce GTX 800M GTX 880M GTX 870M GTX 860M GTX 850M

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 800M Mobility Chips Launching At CeBIT14

Over the last few months, we have seen several leaks regarding the GeForce GTX 880M, GeForce GTX 870M and the most interesting GeForce GTX 860M GPUs. Apparently, the GeForce GTX 800M mobility lineup features both NVIDIA Kepler and Maxwell architecture based parts. From what we have seen, the GeForce GTX 880M and the GeForce GTX 870M are Kepler rebrands of the GeForce GTX 780M and GTX 770M chips while the GeForce GTX 860M and GTX 850M will feature the first generation Maxwell core architecture which made a debut last month with the GeForce GTX 750 series graphics cards.

Our buddies over at Videocardz managed to get hand of some exclusive slides which detail the performance and power efficiency of these new chips. From the specifications, we can see that the GeForce GTX 880M would be the flagship chip of the mobility lineup but it’s just a rebrand of the GTX 780M with some improved clock speeds. 



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