|MSI Z77 MPOWER LGA1155 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 02 October 2012|
Page 11 of 11
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.
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...
+ MIL-STD-810G. You know, I never get tired of saying this.
- Software bundle could be more capable.
Final Score: 8.9 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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