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MSI Z77 MPOWER LGA1155 Motherboard E-mail
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Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 02 October 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
MSI Z77 MPOWER LGA1155 Motherboard
Closer Look: Z77 MPOWER
Z77 MPOWER Proprietary Features
Z77 MPOWER UEFI
Z77 MPOWER Bundled Software
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
Power Efficiency Tests
MPOWER Overclocking
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

MSI Z77 Final Thoughts

In the original Aliens movie, the android Ash says of the murderous alien creature rampaging through the ship, "I admire its purity." That kind of sums up what I feel about the MSI Z77 MPOWER: with its beefed up power circuitry, voltage control points, and overclocking features in the BIOS and Windows applications, it's rather single-minded in its positioning: it's aimed at overclockers. It doesn't support DLNA over WiFi or include a PLX chip for PCI-E lane multiplexing; the hardware is pretty much just the basic Intel Z77; its only real "extras" are the ALC audio, the extra USB 3.0 ports, and the Parade voltage/temperature monitoring chip.

This is an excellent board for beginning to moderately experience overclockers. Starting with OC Genie, and using the fan control and temperature monitoring functions in Control Center to fine-tune the best overclock possible with the hardware and cooling available, and the included fold-out overclocking guide will be a big help to the beginner. The mil spec circuitry means that you'll never have to worry about the reliability of your board as you push it as far as you can.

msi_z77_mpower_rot4.jpg

That said, I still wish MSI had gone a little further with their software. There are no enhanced transfer modes for the USB 3.0 ports (like UASP), and their WiFi and Bluetooth implementations are minimal: there's no system monitoring or remote control over Bluetooth (both are possible, but only over WiFi, which is problematic if you prefer wired connections for your desktop machines as I do), and WiFi doesn't offer DLNA or hot spot capabilities. And while you can control the speed of the extra fans connected to the board's PWM headers, only the CPU fan's speed can be linked to temperature; for the other fans, you're limited to specifying a percentage of full speed. I hope that future versions of the software will add more capabilities, because this hardware really deserves more.

Last but not least, MSI covers this board with a three year warranty.

Z77 MPOWER Conclusion

The MSI Z77 MPOWER motherboard is a solid platform for building a high performance LGA1155 system. MSI has gotten the hardware right, and the features and software provided make it possible for a user to build a solid, high-performance system.

The overall performance of the system was excellent, as far as CPU and memory performance go. OC Genie gave the CPU speed a nice boost and automatically applied the XMP profile of the 2133MHz memory I was using. USB 3.0 performance could be better if advanced transfer modes like UASP were possible; as it is, only standard USB 3.0 block transfers are supported.

MSI goes for a black and yellow scheme with this motherboard, with brush metal accents calling out "MSI", "Big Bang", and "Military Class III" at various points around the motherboard. These days, this qualifies as "understated". It's attractive enough and will be supplemented by the various LEDs on the board should you have this in a windowed case.

The construction quality...well, what can you say except "MIL-STD-810G". It's kinda hard to top that. And should something fail anyway, there's that three year warranty to fall back on.

Functionality is the board's biggest weak point, and I'm not talking about the lack of extra SATA 6G ports or PLX chips or anything. The problem is that this board needs a better software bundle. It needs procedural automatic overclocking, UASP for the USB 3.0 ports, and more capability for the WiFi and Bluetooth ports. The good news is that all my complaints in these areas can be addressed with a software update if MSI's willing to put the development time into it.

For all that, though, this board represents a good value. For $199.99 (Newegg / Amazon), the MSI Z77 MPOWER comes in at the mid range of the "performance Z77 board" price scale, and the mil spec components and 3 year warranty indicate that MSI has confidence that the board will do the job they advertise it to do. If only they'd beef up the software package...

Pros:Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award

+ MIL-STD-810G. You know, I never get tired of saying this.
+ Four extra USB 3.0 ports. You can never have too many of these.
+ OC Genie makes a good start on overclocking your system.
+ Included overclocking guide is very helpful.
+ Voltage check points, extra PCI-E power useful for overclockers.
+ Dynamic phase LEDs are cool.

Cons:

- Software bundle could be more capable.
- OC Genie overclocking too conservative.
- ClickBIOS II still has some user interface issues.

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.5
  • Appearance: 9.0
  • Construction: 9.75
  • Functionality: 7.5
  • Value: 8.75

Final Score: 8.9 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

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Comments 

 
# Network GenieDavid 2013-03-20 19:46
I made a mistake of installing network genie, and it doesn't show up in my programs and features. I cannot uninstall this program. There is no option for execution on startup. So it always starts up on boot. And there is nothing in the directories that pertain to uninstall. Also no online-content about this feature. Ugh, MSI, what are you doing? Why did you suggest this "crap" on my driver disk. REALLY?
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# Try this!Louis 2013-06-11 16:36
You should maybe install a separate network adapter for the program to install properly.
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# MSIDavid 2013-09-17 07:51
I was wrong to blame MSI for this. I ended up taking it out of my registry. While I'm curious as to why this has zero support, I'm not sure what I did to somehow get in that position with Network Genie.
I don't doubt that I initiated the NG install before getting service packs, .net and other important updates.
That's more than likely what had happened, I just remember seeing a program called Network Genie and getting super excited to see the capabilities. (Me so newb)
I will say though, I now have a few MSI boards, and all been extremely dependable EVEN without tower protection in my humidity filled basement! OC-genie'd amd 6-core (passed my personal assessments) Never had a problem with either of them. MSI-Reliability is where it's at.
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