MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review

Introduction and Technical Specifications

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review

Introduction

Although the MSI Gaming range has dominated our awards in recent times, the MPOWER range most definitely cannot be ignored. With a colour scheme that is unique to them, black and yellow, coupled to an array of high-end features and overclocking capabilities, the MPOWER range is even more of an enthusiast motherboard than the Gaming ones can be. 

Indeed the MSI MPOWER was probably the most surprising board in our Z77 benchmarks so we're intrigued as to whether the lengthily named Z97 MPOWER MAX AC can continue the excellent trend of MicroStar International motherboards that combine outstanding performance with good looks at a sensible price point.

So let's find out.

Technical Specifications

Looking through the technical specifications of the MPOWER and it's clear that this has all the bells and whistles one could hope to find. We have 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports, the now popular M.2 port for small SSDs, and two further SATA 6Gb/s ports courtesy of an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. Storage definitely isn't a problem.

Neither is USB connectivity. The MPOWER MAX AC utilises three different chips to give a whopping ten rear USB ports, eight of which are USB 3.0 ports. With so many devices (in fact, everything) using USB these days it's very easy to run out of ports. A quick glance at our desk shows 9 USB devices and a lot of our external storage goes via LAN, so to know that we have 10 at the rear, and another 8 on the inside for front panel connections is reassuring.

An included WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 port ensures that all your wireless needs are taken care of. The board itself has many options, which we'll look at on the next pages.

CPUSupports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors, and Intel® Pentium® and Celeron® Processors for Socket LGA1150
Chipset Intel® Z97 Express Chipset
Memory Support four DDR3 DIMMs 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2000*/2133*/2200*/2400*/2600*/2666*/2800*/3000*/3100*/3200*/3300*(OC) DRAM, 32GB Max
- Supports Dual-Channel mode
- Supports non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
PCI Express 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4 modes)
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
SATAIntel® Z97 Express Chipset 
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1~6)
- 1 x M.2 port*
- M.2 port supports M.2 SATA 6Gb/s module
- M.2 port supports M.2 PCIe module up to 10Gb/s speed**
- M.2 port supports 4.2cm/ 6cm/ 8cm length module
- Supports RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10***
- Supports Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Intel Smart Connect Technology****

ASMedia® ASM1061 chipset
- 2 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA7~8)

USB

Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports available through the internal USB connectors
- 6 x USB 2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB connectors*) 


ASMedia ASM1074 Chipset
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports on the back panel


Renesas ASM1042 Chipset
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports on the back panel
* internal JUSB1 connector supports MSI Super Charger
AudioRealtek® ALC1150 Codec
- 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
- Supports S/PDIF output
- Supports S/PDIF Input
LAN1x Intel I218-V Gigabit LAN controller
Multi-GPU SupportSupports 3-Way AMD CrossFire™ Technology*
Supports 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
WirelessWi-Fi/Bluetooth expansion module with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 chip.
- Supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz) up to 867 Mbps speed.
- Supports Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
BluetoothWi-Fi/Bluetooth expansion module with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 chip. Supports Bluetooth v4.0 (includes BLE* and Bluetooth 3.0+HS)
Internal IO- 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x 6-pin ATX 12V power connector*
- 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- 2 x USB 3.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.0 ports)
- 2 x 4-pin CPU fan connectors
- 3 x 4-pin system fan connectors
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Front panel audio connector
- 2 x System panel connectors
- 1 x TPM module connector
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
- 9 x V-Check connectorsts
- 1 x GO2BIOS button
- 1 x Power button
- 1 x Reset button
- 2 x Base Clock control buttons
- 1 x OC Genie button
- 1 x Discharge button
- 1 x Multi-BIOS switch
- 1 x OC Genie mode switch
- 1 x Slow mode switch
- 1 x 2-Digit Debug Code LED
- 1 x Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module connector
* Provides additional power to PCIe x16 slots
External IO

- 1x PS/2 keyboard/ mouse port
- 2 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 8 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF OUT connector - 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2304@24Hz, 2560x1600@60Hz, 3840x2160@60Hz, 1920x1200@60Hz
- 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2304@24Hz, 2560x1600@60Hz, 3840x2160@60Hz,1920x1200@60Hz
- 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
- 6 x OFC audio jacks


This platform supports dual-display and triple-display function

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Most Recent Comments

11-05-2014, 03:42:13

tinytomlogan
http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...164150830l.jpg

That collection of capitals must mean a new MSI motherboard, and today we look at the Z97 MPOWER MAX AC.


Continue Reading

11-05-2014, 04:21:27

SieB
Awesome looking board, it's the only Z97 mobo apart from the Giga Z97 SOC that I actually like the look of. Shame about the performance, although it does seem abnormal low in places so my bet is on the BIOS not being up to scratch, which will no doubt be fixed.
I'm looking forward to seeing how the Devils Canyon Haswell refresh perform on this board though.

11-05-2014, 04:43:14

SnowmanFromHell
Really like the looks of this, the yellow and black is just a nice change from the usual red and black. The BIOS... yeah, well... still enough time to get it fixed in time for Devil's Canyon.
But the fixed barbs man, really... iirc Asus had those on the Z77 Maximus V Formula TWO GENERATIONS AGO. They fixed it for the Z87 Maximus VI Formula, and MSI STILL don't get it right for Z97? Massive fail, very disappointing

11-05-2014, 05:56:45

Mysterae
Whole heartedly agree with Tom and the other posters, the barbs on the chipset heatsink is a massive design faux pas. The chipset heatsink on the Z87 (so probably the Z97 too) get pretty hot when cooling the regs for an overclocked CPU and the PLX chip when controlling two top end graphics cards. MSI obviously recognises this by giving the option of watercooling, but fail on the execution. It does give third party's the opportunity to offer alternative water cooling blocks, but at an added cost to the buyer.

I'm glad they've moved the location of the GO2BIOS button, but they should have really made it a bigger purpose built button like the power on and discharge buttons. I used the GO2BIOS button alot while setting up my Z87 XPower, the problem being is that you're frequently in Windows wanting the system to go to the bios when you restart - so the system is on. That means sticking your hand/finger in your case while it's powered and having to be pretty accurate that you press it. This can be a bit awkward depending on your case. Don't use a screwdriver!

The POST LEDs - I think they may be displaying the current temperature of the CPU? If so, it's not a bad feature!

Unrelated to the Z97 MPower...

- 4.9GHz at 1.26v is pretty impressive.
- Those grey/silver psu cables are starting to grow on me.
- The sound throughout the review is a bit uncomfortable, the stereo positioning is a bit out of whack.

Cheers for the review!

11-05-2014, 07:40:55

JR23
I completely agree that the 3/8" barbs are tragic and that for every possible scenario it would be better to have G1/4" threads, even for the air coolers and people who want 3/8" barbs, they need that choice at least.

But saying it would be worse with just no water cooling capability at all is a bigger statement. I completely agree that's why I reside here at OC3D and watch the videos. However i'm not sure many other reviewers or consumers will agree with that statement, most people out there who just throw parts together will just think that more features is more features and count it as a positive point without realizing how dumb it is. Not because they are dumb but just because their priorities are different. So I don't mean this as a criticism of the review, infact it's closer to praise because that is the angle I take on things. But i'm just trying to say some people might be like wtf how could less features be better.

JR

11-05-2014, 09:05:34

Ciric
First of all, nice review. Not a generation for me, but nice to see steps forward, and implemention of new storage controllers.

Secondly, it's amazing the manufactures still hasn't learned. Aren't they reading any forums at all. Evry time they integrate water cooling possibilities in their heatsinks, the response is the same. We want G1/4 threads and plugs, so we can choose our own fittings.

Now, MSI, ASUS, Gigabyt, EVGA and who else is out there, repeat after me: "from now on, we will give our WC-heatsinks G1/4 threads, and supply them with plugs matching the heatsinks" -for the love of god, IT IS TIME TO LEARN THIS!!!

11-05-2014, 09:14:24

Wraithguard
Mmmm I'm loving it! It will forever be known as the McDonalds board, time to clock the McNugets off it

11-05-2014, 09:55:17

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wraithguard View Post
Mmmm I'm loving it! It will forever be known as the McDonalds board, time to clock the McNugets off it

do do do do doooooooo......... Im clockin it!

11-05-2014, 10:30:05

paulstung
I've just read, and watched your review of this board, and after a quick google, they do a regular MPower with the same heatsink, but without the silly fixed barbs, I'm liking the look of it, but my problem comes with having a Monsta rad up top in my Enthoo.

I'm thinking the northbridge heatsinks might be too high and I might come into an issue. So considering it is close at hand could you please possibly measure how high they are. Actually thinking about it my ram, Avevir core, just fits with about 1mm to spare so do you think the HS'nks, are higher or lower than my ram ?

If you can't be arsed no probs just tell me to do one.... It is after all Sunday.

11-05-2014, 10:34:20

notcool
Any idea what's up with the audio, it kept switching the left channel off and being weird for the first part of the video. The Asus review was fine...

11-05-2014, 11:20:45

MiNo
On page 1 : 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (support x16, x8/x8, x8/x4/x4 modes)

On page 3 :The decision to use three PCI Express 3.0 lanes is one we don't mind at all. Four GPUs almost never happens and certainly makes no financial sense.

It would appear, that 3 graphics cards fit into this MOBO, but unless I'm mistaken then only 3 AMD cards will fit. You cannot put more that two Nvidia cards in, and if you do - then the 3rd physical PCIe slot is useless, as there are no more PCIe lanes to support it.

Now, reading the review I get a 'feeling' that 3 cards will fit no matter what, and the only thing not possible is 4 cards. But that is not, i believe, the case ?

A small thing, but the quotes suggest that "PCIe slots" and "PCIe lanes" are used to describe the same thing (physical expansion slots) when it's two very different things.

Or ?

11-05-2014, 17:34:43

deadbc77
Nice review,but i'm waiting for your thoughts on the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 or 9.The seven looks more in line with my Z87-GD65,but the nine has the IO shield for twice the money.Such a deal.

17-05-2014, 00:41:46

VirtualNinja
A MSI rep has stated on overclockers.com.au that the barbs are removable. Any chance TTL you could look into this?
Reply
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