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MSI Z87 MPower MAX Motherboard E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards
Written by David Ramsey   
Saturday, 01 June 2013
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI Z87 MPower MAX Motherboard
Closer Look: Z87 MPOWER MAX
Z87 MPOWER MAX Proprietary Features
MSI Z87 UEFI
MPOWER MAX Software
Bundled Software Continued
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
x264HD 5.0 Tests
ATX Motherboard Overclocking
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Closer Look: Z87 MPOWER MAX

This is a full sized ATX motherboard, so you get the expected complement of slots (seven), DIMM sockets (four), and more SATA ports (eight) and USB ports (six USB 2.0 and ten USB 3.0) that you'll likely ever need.

msi_87_mpower_max_straight.jpg

The MPOWER MAX comes with more accessories than I've ever seen included with a motherboard: two software and driver DVDs, six latching SATA cables, back panel eSATA and USB 3.0 adapters, a WiFi/Bluetooth module with two magnetic-base antennas, a nice metal case badge...

msi_87_mpower_max_accessories1.jpg

But that's not all: you also get two manuals, a Certificate of Quality and Stability, a signed and dated 24-hour overclocking burn-in sheet with individual test scores, a very handy overclocking guide, wire leads for the onboard voltage monitoring points, a clever door hanger, and of course an I/O shield.

msi_87_mpower_max_accessories2.jpg

Probably the first thing most people will notice about the board is the enormous black and yellow aluminum heat sink over and around the processor power circuitry. My first though was that this would preclude the use of many large air coolers, but my Thermaltake Silver Arrow, certainly one of the largest CPU coolers available, fits just fine.

msi_87_mpower_max_cpu_socket_area.jpg

The Z87 chipset drops support for legacy PCI slots, so the MPOWER MAX is PCI-E all the way. An interesting feature is the mSATA socket at the lower middle of this image. If you install an mSATA SSD in this slot, you'll lose the use of SATA port #5.

msi_87_mpower_max_slots.jpg

At the front of the board we have two USB 3.0 headers (with, oddly, different orientations), the ATX power connector, and the voltage test point block.

msi_87_mpower_max_ram_and_stuff.jpg

Working from the left, the I/O panel has a PS/2 mouse/keyboard connector, two USB 2.0 ports, a Clear CMOS button, the antenna connectors for the WiFi/Bluetooth card, four USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, an optical audio connector, two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort, two more USB 3.0 ports, and the analog audio panel, which uses gold-plated connectors. Four of the USB 3.0 ports are courtesy of the Z87 chipset, while two more are provided by a Renesas D720202 USB 3.0 controller. You might wonder how MSI provides 6 rear USB 3.0 ports and four front-panel USB 3.0 ports with chips that only support six ports total...the answer is the use of an ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.0 hub, a trick I'm starting to see used in other boards as well.

msi_87_mpower_max_io.jpg

There's more to go in the next section.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: MSI Z87 MPower MAX MotherboardChris 2013-06-10 05:05
It's a pretty good board - my bet is that the main competition will be the Asus Maximus VI Formula, which I imagine will have a similar price point.

The higher end version is the XPower II, which is basically a bigger version that can support 4 GPUs.

At this point, to be honest, I really don't have a preference for motherboard makers - it's really going to come down to what they offer. I personally am willing to pay more, but where the experience is worth it.

I find that the top of the line boards right now don't offer much for the average air/water OC'er the "Maximus Extreme" or "XPower" (unless you run 3-4 GPUs), but that the tier right below though is basically as good as it gets for air cooling.
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# RE: MSI Z87 MPower MAX MotherboardChris 2013-06-10 05:34
I seem to be getting issues with the comment system - not sure why. Hopefully this posts (I had to split this in two).

Among the other competitors, I should also mention that Gigabyte Z87X-OC, which is a pretty good board as well - it's pretty much a stripped down board. I haven't seen Asrock's or the other competitor's boards.

Right now I do feel like Asus has the best EFI implementation. The other components though - yeah it's well, too close to call I think. It'll come down to a combination of your faith in the brand, what the company offers at the price point you're looking for, and the general reaction of these boards.
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