|MSI Z77 MPOWER LGA1155 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 02 October 2012|
Page 3 of 11
Z77 MPOWER Proprietary Features
All the fancy cooling systems in the world won't help your overclocking efforts unless your motherboard has a power system that's up to the task. MSI's Z77 MPOWER ensures that you'll never be wanting for clean, stable power with its "Hybrid Digital Power" system. The area around the CPU socket is home to the Solid Ferrite Chokes (SFCs), in front of which are the Highly Conductive Polymerized Capacitors, aka "Hi-C Caps". These are next-generation solid capacitors MSI started using in 2010 and offer much longer service life than standard solid-state capacitors. The driver-MOS (DrMOS) chips are hidden under the heat sinks. All in all there are 16 power phases for the CPU and two for the memory. While not as much as the 22 phases MSI uses on their borderline-insane Big Bang XPower boards, 16 phases is still plenty! And see that "Military Class III" on the heat sink? That's not just marketing fluff: the board actually uses components that meet the MIL-STD-810G specification.
The MSI Z77 MPOWER has two separate BIOS chips; you can select the one to use with the switch below. An LED below the selected BIOS chip illuminates to show you which one is being used.
At the top edge of the board are the DrMOS alarm and phase LEDs. The former will light up when the CPU power circuitry overheats, while the phase LEDs light up in sequence, in real time, as the system's running to show how many power phases are being used. The more phases that are lit, the harder the system's working. The entire string of phase LEDs can be very bright when they're all lit, but you can disable them from the BIOS or MSI's Command Center utility.
Here's an interesting section of the board. Just below the main 24 pin ATX power connector is a 6 pin connector that provides additional power to the graphics cards. This is handy for extreme overclockers. Just to the right of that is the voltage check point array, and thankfully MSI supplies enough leads for all of them. Last are the power, reset, and OC Genie buttons. The OC Genie button applies an automatic overclock, and I'll discuss its operation in more detail later in this review.
Surprisingly, there are only the six standard SATA ports supported by the Z77 chipset. The right two are SATA 6G and MSI provides a label reminding users that this is where they should connect their SSDs. Just to the right is the internal USB 3.0 header, followed by a two digit POST code display. A nice touch: after you've booted into Windows, the POST code display shows the CPU temperature in degrees Celsius.
MSI reserves one USB 2.0 power for their "Super Charger" features, which can charge high-drain devices with 1.5 amps and +5V, triple the USB standard of 0.5 amps. The SuperCharger USB port is marked in red on the motherboard.
Let's check out the UEFI BIOS in the next section.