MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

Hassan Mujtaba
Posted Jul 25, 2013
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Introduction

It has been over a month since Intel launched their latest Haswell platform for consumers. The Haswell chips or specifically, the K-Series processors brought some revolutionary new features for overclocking that were before limited to the HEDT X79 platform. Intel’s Haswell CPUs come with an Integrated voltage regulator “FVIR” along with enhanced BCLK overclocking. With the launch of Haswell platform from Intel, motherboard manufacturers popped up some really impressive designs and features for the new platform that were not available on the main stream platform.

Micro Star International or MSI as formerly knowned is a pioneer in the hardware department offering some of the most impressive and award winning technologies to date. With the launch of Intel’s Haswell platform, MSI launched three tiers of lineups for their motherboards – Gaming/Overclocking/Legacy. Each lineup is built for a specific range of consumers. The Overclocking lineup has three products in its tier, the flagship Z87 XPower, Z87 MPOWER MAX and the Z87 MPOWER. Each motherboard is designed to offer unprecedented overclock features to the users allowing for the best and stable overclocks possible with the K-Series Haswell processors.

Today, we will be taking a look at the Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard which is sandwiched between the Z87 XPOWER and the Z87 MPOWER motherboard. Specifically, the motherboard offers better features and a much powerful power supply area to allow for better overclocks. But before we talk about the board itself, let’s take a look at the new chipset and socket which support the latest Haswell processors.

Intel LGA 1150 Socket

Intel’s Haswell processors are compatible with the latest LGA 1150 socket. As denoted by its name, the LGA 1150 has 5 less pins compared to the LGA 1155 socket which supports Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors. Intel did one thing right with the new socket and that’s the socket positioning which allows LGA 1155 socket coolers and mounting brackets to remain compatible with the newer socket. So if you have a old LGA 1155 socket cooler that you wish to use with the new LGA 1150 socket? It could be done so, but do note that while the socket looks the same as LGA 1155 socket, the processors are incompatible due to different pin layout so you don’t want to try putting an Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge processor into the LGA 1150 socket otherwise it would damage the pins permanently.

Haswell 8-Series “Lynx Point” Z87 PCH

Intel’s Haswell processors would be compatible with the 8-Series “Lynx Point” chipset fused on the LGA 1150 socket motherboards. There are different tiers of Lynx Point chips on the Haswell platform which include Z87 /Z76/H87/H81/B85/Q87/Q85. The motherboard we would be testing today is based on the Z87 PCH. The 8-Series chipset in a whole isn’t much different from 7-Series Panther point. The following chart mentions key differences between both platform control hubs:

Item 7-Series “Panther Point” 8-Series “Lynx Point”
I/O Port flexibility No Yes
Total USB 3.0/2.0 Ports 14 USB Ports 14 USB Ports
USB 3.0 Capable Ports Upto 4 Upto 6
xHCI Ports 4 USB 3 Ports All USB Ports by xCHI
PCI Express Upto 8 PCIe 2.0 (5GT/s) Upto 8 PCI-e 2.0 (5GT/s)
Total SATA Ports 6 SATA 6 SATA
SATA 6 GB/s Capable Ports Upto 2 Upto 6
Legacy PCI Legacy PCI on Q/B SKU No Legacy PCI for any SKU
Digital Display I/F DP, HDMI, Wirelress display Display moved to processor
Analog Display I/F VGA VGA
SPI Dual Read SFDP, Quad Read

 

MSI Overclock Products

Like i mentioned previously, the Z87 MPOWER MAX falls in the MSI’s overclock lineup which includes the MPower and XPower branding for the motherboards and Lightning branding for the graphic cards lineup. The entire MSI overclock lineup is “OC Certified” meaning that the motherboards and graphic cards have been evaluated under stress load while overclock using prime95 software for 24 hours before being shipped to retail.

This guarantees that MSI’s overclock products do what they are meant to do, overclock like a beast and offer the best stability possible because that’s the absolutely everything an overclocker would want out of a product that is built to overclock.In addition to this nifty certification,MSI’s overclock lineup ships with the industry’s leading OC Essential and Military Class IV features and components which we would detail in this article later on.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Motherboard

The MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard which we received from MSI is an high-end motherboard. From the looks and the features it boasts, anyone could point out that it’s not built for the average consumer. The Z87 MPOWER MAX comes with a wide variety of features, tons of bundled accessories and a design that’s simply elegant.

You can check out the features, unboxing, accessories and testing results below for the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Motherboard.

MSI MAXED OUT With Z87 MPOWER MAX

The MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX is feature-rich and delights enthusiasts with a variety of overclocking packages. All of the features have been provided in the following chart, do take a look before we head on to much more detailed overview of these features.

CPU
  • Supports 4th Gen Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1150 socket
Chipset
  • Intel Z87 Chipset
Memory
  • Support four DDR3 DIMMs 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2133*/2400*/2667*/3000*(*OC) DRAM (32GB Max)
Onboard Graphics Integrated Graphics Processor:

  • 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160
  • 2 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×2160
Audio
  • Chipset integrated by Realtek ALC1150
LAN/Wireless LAN
  • Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Intel Centrino Wireless N 2230 with Bluetooth
Expansion Slots
  • 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
  • 4 x PCIe x1 slots
Multi-Graphics Technology
  • Support for AMD CrossFire technology
  • Support for NVIDIA SLI technology
Storage Interface Chipset:

  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors / 1 x mSATA (uses up one SATA port)
  • 2 x ASM1061
USB Chipset:

  • Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • Up to 10 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 6 ports available through the internal USB headers)
Internal I/O Connectors
  • ATX 24-Pin power connector
  • 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • CPU x 1 / System x 4 FAN connectors
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 4 x Serial ATAII connectors
  • 2 x Serial ATAIII connectors
  • 3 x USB 2.0 connectors
  • 1 x USB 3.0 connector
  • 1 x Serial port connector
  • 1 x TPM Module connector
  • 1 x Front Panel Audio connector
  • 1 x Front Panel connector
  • 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
Back Panel Connectors
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF-out port
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF-out port
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
  • 1 x HDMI port with max. resolution up to 1920×1200 @60Hz
  • 1 x DVI port with max. resolution up to 1920×1200 @60Hz
  • 1 x Graphics Card port with max. resolution up to 2048×1536 @75Hz
BIOS
  • The motherboard BIOS provides “Plug & Play” BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
  • The motherboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your motherboard specifications.
Operating System Support for Microsoft Windows 8/7/Vista/XP
Form Factor 304.80mm(L) x 243.84mm(W) ATX Form Factor

Z87 MPOWER MAX Promo

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Features:

  • Supports 4th Gen Intel Core / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1150 socket
  • Supports DDR3-3000(OC) Memory
  • USB 3.0 + SATA 6Gb/s
  • Audio Boost: Reward Your Ears with True Quality
  • Killer Ethernet: Kill Your Lag
  • Military Class 4: Top Quality & Stability
  • OC Genie 4: Overclock in 1 Second
  • Click BIOS 4: Easily Fine-tune Your System
  • PCI Express Gen 3: World’s 1st PCI Express Gen 3 Motherboard Brand
  • Multi-GPU: NVIDIA SLI & AMD CrossFire Support
  • Sound Blaster Cinema: Realistic Surround Sound Experience
  • Gaming Device Port: Optimized with Triple Gold-plating for High Polling Rate Gaming Devices
  • Total Fan Control: Optimize All Fan Speed As You Wish
  • Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0: Uncompromised Game Response Performance
  • Super Charger: Quickly Charge your iPad/iPhone/smartphones even under S0/S1/S3/S4/S5 mode

Alright, so let’s do a detailed look at the features the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX boasts. For starters, the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX supports the Intel 4th generation “Haswell” Core/Pentium/Celeron processors. This is achieved with the LGA 1150 socket and Z87 chipset which adds in support for the latest processors. The new Z87 chipset itself allows overclocking of Haswell chips which otherwise is not possible on the H87 and B75 chipset range.

MSI Military Class IV Components

On the overclocking side, the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX features a DNA that’s similar to what’s available on MSI’s Lightning range of GPUs. This means that it comes equipped with the Military Class IV components and MSI’s OC Certification. According to MSI, the Z87 MPOWER MAX is assembled based on four key principles:

  • Professional overclockers feedback must be integrated
  • Continue MSI’s leading position in power efficiency and stability
  • Only use essential OC tools
  • Infuse the DNA of MSI’s Lightning graphics cards

So what are these Military Class IV components? They are the selection of some of the finest and highest quality components built specifically for OC certified hardware. These include the likes of Hi-C CAPs, DARK Cap, Super Ferrite Chokes, Digital Power PWM and an OC PCB. The Hi-C Cap is an ultra compact capacitors that saves space off the motherboard and allows upto 93% energy efficiency. The DARK Cap on the other hand features an core design made of aluminum with a lower ESR and a life space of 10 years. MSI’s boards also use the Super Ferrite Chokes which run 35 degrees cooler, have 30% higher current capacity with 20% improvement in power efficiency and offering stability.

The MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX users a 6 layer OC PCB which offers 50% more layers than previous designs. It features a digital power controller that automatically adjusts and supplies power to the PWM and features of the OC PCB are detailed below:

  • Increased number of PCB layers
  • Increased humidity resistance
  • Tight weave fiberglass PCB
  • Increased ESD protection

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX- Unboxing

Finally, i reach my favorite part of the entire review, the unboxing! The MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX comes in a box shaped package with a distinctive yellow and black color along with a large “M” cover. On the side, we can spot two Intel stickiers which mention “Intel Core” and “Intel Z87”.

The back of the board has a tons of labels and marketing material stamped on it. There’s a large OC Certified logo at one corner followed by a brief introduction at the features such as high performance, enhanced PWM cooling and better power stability. There are also logos such as MSI G-Series, MC IV, OC Genie 4, Command Center, MSI audio boost, Killer E-2200, Sound blaster Cinema, Virtu MVP 2.0 and Intel WiDi. You can also find the specs and I/O preview at the bottom of the box.

Ok, so now the most interesting part. The front cover, the one we mentioned with the huge “M” is actually a flip over cover which has its own set of labels detailed the enhanced features of the board such as Thermal, BIOS, Power, Components and the OC Essentials. The M has been cut out in such a way that you can get a brief look from the cut out. Inside the box are two separate compartments, one houses the motherboard while the other is stuffed with the accessories.

We will detail the accessories later, for now we take a look at the Z87 MPOWER MAX which looks amazing and simplistic. We have the motherboard out of the box, now its time to take a closer look at it so head on to the following paragraph.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – A Closer Look

First thing we note on the Z87 MPOWER MAX is that the motherboard is supplied power through Dual 8-Pin connectors, in addition to the 24-Pin ATX connector. This ensures that enough juice is provided to the socket so that users can enjoy higher overclocks with enhanced stability.

The motherboard makes use of two large heatsinks, both featuring the black and yellow color theme. They are quiet large and provide enough cooling for the VRMs and PCH. The PCH heatsink has an MSI logo embedded that glows when the motherboard is powered on.

By taking off the heatsinks, we can note that the upper portion makes use of a heatpipe solution with the VRMs sitting beneath the rubber pads. The second heatsink has a small contact surface, wide enough for the Z87 PCH but the coverage area is large. The heatsinks are not a problem with almost any large coolers, we tested it with the Phantek’s PH-TC14 PE and didn’t had any problems installing it on the motherboard.

Sitting beneath the heatsinks is a powerful 20 Phase DigitALL Power Design that’s enough for overclocking on LN2 and also enough to take on harsh voltage overclocks. Overall, the PWM area has a high-end looking and clean lay out.

The Z87 MPOWER MAX has four DDR3 DIMM slots which support 1066/ 1333/ 1600/ 1866/ 2133/ 2400/ 2667/ 3000(OC) DRAM with capacities of upto 64 GB. We can also find voltage adjustment points near the DIMMs.

Near the Z87 PCH are 8 SATA ports, 6 of which are SATA III ports offered by the Z87 chipset while the remaining two are offered by an ASMedia ASM1061 controller. There’s also a USB 3.0 header (right-angled) connector near to the slots. DEBUG LED, BIOS switch and Fast boot switches are also located near the PCH.

The expansion slots consists of three PCI-e 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8/x4 electrical) and four PCI-e x1 slots.

 

An m-SATA connector is located right next to the expansion slots while we can find the audio boost chip to the side and OC Essential switches right below the expansion slots.

 

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – Picture Gallery

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – OC Essentials

The Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard features the OC Essentials which are a small set of tools offering ease of management, trouble shooting and stability to overclockers.

The first OC essential tool is the V-Check Points (Voltage) to check voltages for CPU_VComp, CPU_Core2, CPU_CORE1, CPU_CORE3, PCH_VCCVRM, PCH_CORE, and CPU_VCCIO. There are two seperate voltage checkpoints on the motherboard. One is located near the DIMM slots while the other V-Check point can be spotted right below the LGA 1150 socket.

Beneath the PCH heatsink is a Debug LED and the Multi BIOS II. The Debug LED can be used to diagnose and troubleshoot various errors and problems with the motherboard while the Multi-BIOS II switch can be used to save an OC profile or revert back to default settings after encountering failure in overclocking.

At the bottom of the board is a large arrangement of switches which fall in the OC Essentials tools. These include the Easy Button 3 which offer OC Genie switch, Power On/Off Switch and a Reset Switch while the DirectOC offer to increase or decrease frequency on the go. The OC Genie automatically adjusts the overclock settings giving us better performance without any manual tweaking.

The Last tool is located at the I/O panel which is a Clear CMOS button. When pressed, the Clear CMOS tool resets the default presets of the motherboard and processor incase of failure in overclocking. There’s a GO2BIOS switch to located on the board which can be pressed to enter BIOS since motherboard’s boot to fast and users can miss entering the BIOS panel in the short time.

MSI Audio Boost Technology

One of the new features introduced by MSI in their motherboard range including the Z87 MPOWER MAX is the Audio Boost technology. This tech makes use of high quality audio capacitors and an ALC1150 chip that through an TI OPA1652 amplifier offer premium audio quality. In the past, consumers would had to spent additional cash on an external audio card for their audiophile needs but MSI has listened to their pleas and offered a decent and high quality solutions to sound and music lovers.

The ALC 1150 codec is protected by a shielded plate that reduces EMI interference to deliver higher quality audio. Audio is provided through an 8 Channel gold plated audio jack on the I/O panel.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – I/O Panel

The Z87 MPOWER MAX’s I/O panel has a variety of connectors which include a PS/2 port / USB 2.0 ports which is denoted as the Gaming device port offering higher polling frequency (1000 Hz), More responsiveness and Faster reactions to gamers. The PS/2 and USB ports are all gold plated which means 10x longer lifetime while preventing them from oxidation and corrosion.

In total, there are 6 USB 3.0 ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports which offer connectivity with peripheral devices. There’s also the Clear CMOS button, KILLER LAN Ethernet port (Powered by KILLER E2200 chip), Optical S/PDIF out, two HDMI ports, Display Port and an 8 Channel analog audio powered with Audio Boost technology.

In addition to these, an external Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module is also shipped by MSI that comes with two antennas and supports Intel WiDi. This is an extremely generous bundle by MSI that supports 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel’s Wireless Display.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – Accessories

One thing i was amazed with when i first opened the box of the Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard were the tons of bundled accessories that MSI ships with their latest overclocking product.

The accessory bundle includes a wide range of manuals, OC certificates, Door hangers, G-Series case badge and two installation disks. There’s also 6 SATA Cables, an E-SATA cable and a power cable along with an SLI bridge, I/O shield, V-Check point cables and EZ-Connectors for easier accessibility. The motherboard ships with two separate USB 3.0 and eSATA headers which need to be connected to the board in order to function properly. These can be attached to the front or back panel of the case for extra USB and port offering e-SATA.

Last piece of equipment that comes with the Z87 MPOWER MAX is the Wi-Fi / Bluetooth 802.11 b/g/n module that also offers Intel’s wirelress display feature. A handy yet compact device that comes with its own antennas.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – Utilities

Each motherboard manufacturer develops a wide range of exclusive utilities and software for their latest hardware and products these days. MSI bundles their Z87 MPOWER MAX with some new software utilities allowing easier management and ease of control over the various features on the motherboard. Following Utilities can be found on the installation disk:

  • Command Center
  • Super Charger
  • Super RAID
  • Live Update 5
  • Fast Boot
  • Lucid VIRTU MVP
  • 7-ZIP
  • Intel Turbo Boost Monitor
  • Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
  • Norton Internet Security Solution
  • Trend Micro SafeSync
  • Sound Blaster Cinema
  • Killer Network Manager
  • Chrome Browser

MSI Command Center

Out of all the utilities, the most interesting is the MSI Command Center. The utility works through the Windows OS and provides real-time tuning and overclock management as found inside the BIOS. We can also set up RAM Disk through the software and turn OC Genie On or Off. The main panel shows off temperatures, system info, Fan Control and CPU BCLK/Multiplier tuning.

Under the DRAM tab, we can adjust CPU Voltage, DRAM Voltage and DRAM Frequencies. Additional voltage and power settings can be found under the Advanced tab.

MSI’s Command Center also allows you to adjust the frequencies and voltages of the integrated graphics chip, which in our case is the HD 4600 on the Haswell Core i7-4770K processor.

The advanced panel gives a large amount of tuning options related to power management and voltages. It also provides settings to tune DRAM timing and DRAM configurations. Fan settings can also be tuned to increase or decreases their RPM.

Then there’s the OC Genie panel which gives a brief intro at the OC Genie itself and with the click of a button, the motherboard can be overclocked automatically without any additional tuning.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – BIOS

MSI delivers their latest UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS with the Z87 MPOWER MAX board termed as Click Bios 4. In its fourth iteration, the Click Bios is an ACPI 5.0, PnP1.0a, SM BIOS 2.7, and DMI 2.0 multi language ready BIOS. It offers a seamless experience using Keyboard and Mouse. The GUI when accessed can be seen that it remains largely similar to MSI’s Z77 MPOWER BIOS but with a better opening page and few new features.

MSI Click BIOS IV

The Z87 MPOWER MAX comes with Dual BIOS II support which means that there are two 64MB Winbond ICs which house the BIOS allowing you to store OC profiles or keep it as a backpack if failure occurs while overclock. Browsing through the BIOS is lag free using both Keyboard and Mouse and also allows to save pictures in .BMP format to an portable storage device by pressing the F12 keys. This makes it easy for us to show what kind of features the new BIOS on the Z87 MPOWER MAX holds in terms of features for enthusiasts.

When opened, the BIOS shows the large MPOWER MAX logo, on the top you can find what devices are connected to the motherboard, CPU/Motherboard temperatures, system specifications, time and a icon that shows if OC Genie is enabled or not. On the left side, we can spot the Settings, OC, M-Flash panels while the right side has the OC Profile panel that’s used to save or load BIOS profiles set by users. Hardware Monitor for advanced control over the fan and real time monitoring while the board explorer panel displays the board information and the components installed on it.

Under the settings panel, we can find the system status which displays basic time/date, SATA configuration and IDs for the system, the advanced panel allows users to change  IGP settings, enable / disable Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect Technologies and mingle with various power management features such as Speedstep, C6/C7 states etc. Inside the Boot panel, we can prioritize what device does the board boots up first and set them category wise. This is where you’ll go if you have to install a new Windows from a DVD drive. Last up is the security panel where users can add an admin password to their system and the last one is save and exit.

Next up is the OC panel where overclockers and enthusiasts would go the most. You can configure BCLK, CPU Ratio, Multiplier, voltages, OC Genie, Turbo Boost, EIST, DRAM Frequency, DRAM voltage adjustments, FVIR adjustments and various other settings here. You can also find the Memory-Z, CPU specification and CPU features tab below which allows to adjust various CPU features such as Hyper threading, Active processors, Visualization, C-States and more. Intel’s XMP 1.3 is supported which allows the memory to run at their native OC profiles set by manufacturers. In our case, the Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary modules were running at 2400 MHz compared to the Non-XMP 1333 MHz.

The M-Flash panel allows to update through the latest and various BIOS version available. Users can also backup their BIOS through this tool.

The OC Profile panel offers users to save upto 6 overclocking profiles and also allows them to set their names so its easy to remember which profile to use. You can also save your OC profiles to a USB drive or load a profile from a USB drive which makes it much more easier for end users.

The Hardware monitoring panel is the most interesting feature about the BIOS allowing real time configuration of fan speeds and displaying temperatures of the system along with the RPM’s the fans operating at. At the bottom of the hardware monitor page, we can find a separate bar that displays the voltages for CPU Core, CPU I/O, System 3.3V, System 5V, System 12V, Internal GPU (IGP) and the DRAM. A graph shows temperature and fan speeds in real time which is quite cool.

Last up is the board explorer, It shows a detailed overview of the board and by swinging your mouse over the different parts you can get detailed information of the components that are attached to it. Something similar to this was and still is featured by ASRock on their Z77 and Z87 motherboards, MSI adding this too is an awesome deal.

Test Setup

Processor
  •  Intel Core i7-4770K
  • Intel Core i7-3770K
Motherboard:
  • MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX w/ Core i7-4770K
  • Intel DZ87KLT-75K w/ Core i7-4770K
  • ASRock Z77 Extreme 6 w/ Core i7-3770K
Power Supply: Xigmatek NRP-MC1002 1000 Watt
Hard Disk: Intel SSD 520 Series 256 GB (OS)
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.12
Memory: 4 x 4 GB Kingston HyperX 2133 MHz
10th Anniversary Edition Memory Kit
Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
Video Cards: ASUS GeForce GTX 680
Cooling Solutions: Phantek PH-TC14PE Triple Fan
OS: Windows 8 Ultimate 64-bit

Overclocking With Z87 MPOWER MAX

Overclocking the Core i7-4770K on the Z87 MPOWER MAX was easier than i thought. We pushed the multiplier to x47 with a BCLK of 100 MHz at 1.378 max voltage and achieved an overclocked of 4.7 GHz which is pretty good for a Haswell chip considering how they overclocked. We also enabled XMP 1.3 profile for our memory clocking it to 2400 MHz at 1.65V on all four DDR3 modules. You can find the CPU-z screenshot below *(The overclock was stressed for 1 hour which is enough to tell whether it was stable or not for testing).

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – BENCHMARKS

X264 HD Encode Benchmark

This benchmark measures the encoding performance of the processor. It offers a standardized benchmark as the clip as well as the encoder used is uniform.

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench is based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D. It is used to compare graphics as well as processor performance. We are using the CPU performance numbers for our comparison.

PCMark 7

PCMark 7 is a complete PC benchmarking solution for Windows 7 and Windows 8. It includes 7 tests combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed for the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete Windows PC performance testing for home and business use.

POV-Ray

3DMark Vantage CPU Performance

3DMark Vantage is a DirectX 10 video card benchmark test for Windows that is designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance. While the overall benchmark is great, the utility also provides a good indication of the CPU performance.

WinRar

SuperPI

Super PI is used by many overclockers to test the performance and stability of their computers. In the overclocking community, the standard program provides a benchmark for enthusiasts to compare “world record” pi calculation times and demonstrate their overclocking abilities. The program can also be used to test the stability of a certain overclock speed.

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX – Gaming Performance

Z87 MPOWER MAX – Battlefield 3 Performance

Battlefield 3 is the award winning mutliplayer shooter from EA’s studio DICE. The game features an enhanced Frostbite 2.0 engine that implements DirectX 11 features such as tessellation, dynamic lightning and sub-surface scattering with per particle motion blur. Battlefield 3 relies heavily on graphics performance which is the reason we are looking at minimal differences in performance from each processor in the chart below:

Z87 MPOWER MAX – Elder Scrolls Skyrim Performance

Bethesda released their Elder Scrolls Skyrim in 2011 and the hype level shattered the roofs. The game was met with wide success and is built with the latest Creation engine which meant a farewell to the much older game bryo engine from Bethesda. The game has one of the most biggest and well crafted world ever created. The game requires a good CPU for stable performance, most GPUs can handle the game well. It wasn’t until users started pouring in their custom content and mods for the PC version such as high-resolution textures and more which required GPUs with higher VRAM for adequate performance. Skyrim is known as one of the reasons by PC gamers for GPUs with higher VRAM.

Z87 MPOWER MAX – CRYSIS 3 Performance

Crysis franchise is the crown jewel for the PC gamers. Even after going multi-plat, the game is considered to be the most brilliant and gorgeous game ever brilliant, a visual marvel in short. The third and most probably the last title in the Crysis trilogy blends in the most deepest story line of the franchise with graphics that would make any other game cry in shame. Powering the game is the beastly and much user friendly CryEngine 3 that adopts all the features of DirectX 11 API. Simply speaking, the game demands a high performance graphics card than a high performance CPU to play well on higher settings.

Power Consumption And Thermals

The MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX is built for overclocking though higher overclocks mean higher power consumption for which high quality PSU’s are recommended. In the chart below, you can see that the Z87 MPOWER MAX consumes wattage similar to Intel Z87 board at default settings but as soon as we overclock, we can see that the board demands more power. In the case of LN2 or higher voltage overclocking, the Z87 MPOWER MAX comes with another 8-Pin power connector which means that it would require a beefy power supply to meet the overclockers demands.

On the temperature side, we see that the Haswell Core i7-4770K has temperatures similar to the Core i7-3770K at default settings but as soon as its overclocked, the CPU pushed around the 80-90C even with the top-end air cooler available in the market (Phantek’s PH-TC14 PE). This is due to the low quality TIM used beneath the heat spreader rather than flux less solder. This is a similar issue as faced on Ivy Bridge so expect higher temperatures when overclocking. A water cooling setup is recommended for 24/7 overclocked usage.

Conclusion

So we arrive at the final conclusion but before passing on my thoughts about the board, i would personally like to thank MSI (Micro Star International) for giving us the opportunity to review and test their Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard.

The Z87 MPOWER MAX from MSI costs $259.99 US which is an absolutely fantastic price for a motherboard that offers so much to consumers. Starting off with the design, the Z87 MPOWER MAX takes the overclocking features of the Z77 MPOWER, refines and perfects them to craft a design that stands out against the various Z87 board crowd. The design layout of the Z87 MPOWER MAX is great to look at and would perfectly suit a PC enthusiasts needs.

The overclocking side of the motherboard is really strong with features like the OC PCB, OC Essentials and a powerful PWM supply that’s enough for any overclocker. The motherboard comes with dual 8-Pin ATX power connectors which mean that overclocking with LN2 and extreme voltages is possible. Not only this but for people who aren’t into overclocking much can automatically boost up the PC’s performance with a click of a button, the OC Genie. It’s easy and could be done manually from the switch on the motherboard. The BIOS also feels fantastic with lag free experience and tons of tuning options. Even the utilities supplied with the motherboard are hassle free and allow overclocking through the operating system a piece of cake.

But the thing that actually amazed me the most about the motherboard is the bundled package. I have never seen such a gigantic accessory bundle with a motherboard. The last motherboard i tested which had a huge bundle was the GA-990FX-UD7 but the Z87 MPOWER MAX takes it to a whole new level giving consumers a bluetooth, WiFi, WiDi module for free that would otherwise cost around $20 US. Including this, MSI also equips the board with some handsome new features such as the Killer Ethernet LAN port, Audio Boost technology that delivers high quality audio and saves users from buying an addon sound card worth $25-$50 and a mSATA port that offers 6 GBps interface.

MSI’s Z87 MPOWER MAX packs an impressive design, a huge bundle of accessories, variety of overclocking features for enthusiasts and value that blows your mind.

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