MSI Z77 MPower

Excellent overclocking performance at an affordable price. We have waited years for a motherboard like the Z77 MPower. Why? Because every time a manufacturer comes with a motherboard aimed at overclockers, it is filled with other features that aren't useful for overclocking. MSI kept those extra features to a minimum on the Z77 MPower board. If you are an overclocker, then the Z77 MPower should be on your wish list, it's as simple as that. See all technology buying advice.

During the Computex fair in Taiwan we encountered for the first time MSI's MPower motherboards. Positioned on the market as sub-high-end boards, they are supposed to offer excellent overclocking performance at an affordable price. They also come with a unique extra, in the form of a guaranteed overclocking result. The first MPower board has now arrived in the Hardware.Info test lab, the Z77 MPower.

The Z77 MPower is available for around £155, which is more affordable than overclocking boards from other brands. It's more expensive than the popular MSI Z77A-GD65, but cheaper than the GD80. It also doesn't have a Thunderbolt connector. The new MPower series will be positioned below the high-end deluxe XPower series, hence the sub-high-end description. In the Z77/Socket 1155 category there is no Xpower board available, and one also is not being planned as far as we know.

The most unique feature of the Z77 MPower board actually has nothing to do with hardware or software, but in the way it's been validated. MSI claims that each Z77 MPower board is tested for stability during a 24-hour Prime95 stress test, combined with a Core i7 3770K running at 4.6 GHz. This guarantees an overclock to that point. The test is done under low airflow conditions. This type of overclock guarantee is something we've been calling for for a number of years. When you pay a relatively large amount of money for a deluxe motherboard, it's nice if you get something in return. We are a little curious how many 3770Ks MSI had to acquire for the validations.

The MSI Z77 MPower looks cool. It comes entirely in black, with yellow accents on the heatsinks. The MPower has three PCI-Express x16 slots, with a total of 16 lanes. The other configurations are 16/0/0, 8/8/0 and 8/4/4. The latter is not possible with Sandy Bridge processors, and the third x16 slot can't be used with those processors. The board also has four PCI-Express x1 slots.

The motherboard doesn't stand out in terms of features, but everything you need as overclocker has been thought of. Of course you get onboard power and reset buttons, and a switch lets you change between the two BIOS chips the motherboard has. Two HEX displays shows POST codes during start-up, and once it's started also the temperature. There are voltage measuring points for the most important voltages, and they've used a handy block where you can attach the pens from your multimeter. The OC Genie button lets you overclock the board with one press of the button, and there is a new feature that will be very welcome for overclockers. The Go2BIOS button removes the need for hammering the DEL button on the keyboard to access the BIOS. Press the button, and as soon as the PC has rebooted it will automatically take you to the BIOS.

To read about the overclocking scores of the Z77 MPower, read the rest of the review on Hardware.Info.