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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

MSI Z87 UEFI

I've never found MSI's ClickBIOS graphical UEFI quite as easy to use or intuitive as some others. However, MSI has continued to refine it, and the latest iteration, ClickBIOS 4, is quite good. The basic layout remains the same: a central data area surrounded by six large "buttons" (SETTINGS, OC, M-FLASH, OC PROFILE, HARDWARE MONITOR, and BOARD EXPLORER) that select what functions, data, and settings are shown in the central area.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_main.jpg

There's not enough room in any review to cover all of the dozens of pages available in this UEFI, so I'll just hit the high points. The SETTINGS page is the entry for all the standard things you'd want to do to your board: configure the iGPU, USB, power management strategy, and other items.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_settings.jpg

I had the most fun in the OC section, which is of course where you can adjust the clock frequencies, multipliers (depending on your CPU) and voltages to put your CPU, memory, and iGPU performance right where you want them. As with many vendors these days, MSI includes an Enhanced Turbo features that runs all CPU cores at the maximum multiplier under load. For example, with the 4770K, Intel's maximum multiplier for a single core is 39x, but it drops to 37x when all cores are loaded. With Enhanced Turbo enabled, all four cores run at 3.9GHz.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_overclocking.jpg

Of course, if you're going to be overclocking (and if you're not, why did you buy this board?), you'll need fine voltage control of every conceivable point on the board. And of course there are other sections where you can set power characteristics like vdroop or the maximum amount of time increased current draw is permitted under load.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_voltage.jpg

Once you have your overclocking settings dialed in, you can save them in the OC PROFILE section.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_oc_profiles.jpg

There's an extensive hardware monitoring section, although as a monitor it's of limited use since if you're in the BIOS, the system isn't going to be working too hard. Still, you can set detailed fan controls in this section, controlling fan speed by temperature, defining minimum and maximum speeds, and so on.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_hw_monitor2.jpg

But my favorite part of ClickBIOS 4 is the new Board Explorer. Similar to what Intel's been doing with some of their boards, Board Explorer shows you exactly what's plugged in where. In this shot I'm looking at the SATA ports, and my Seagate ST3500 drive is plugged into SATA port 1. This can be a great help, especially if your system's in a case rather than out on a test bench. Mousing over the board sections like the RAM and PCI-E slots will show you what's plugged into each.

msi_87_mpower_max_bios_board_explorer_2.jpg

MSI provides lots of utility software with the Z87 MPOWER MAX, which I'll cover 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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