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.

CPU Supports 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
SATA Intel® 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)


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

Audio Realtek® ALC1150 Codec
– 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
– Supports S/PDIF output
– Supports S/PDIF Input
LAN 1x Intel I218-V Gigabit LAN controller
Multi-GPU Support Supports 3-Way AMD CrossFire™ Technology*
Supports 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
Wireless Wi-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)
Bluetooth Wi-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 [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
– 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],[email protected]
– 1 x LAN (RJ45) port
– 6 x OFC audio jacks

This platform supports dual-display and triple-display function