MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review

Test Setup, Overclocking and Temps

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review

Test Setup

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC
Intel Core i7-4770K
nVidia GTX780Ti
Corsair Vengeance Pro 2400MHz
Corsair AX1200i
Corsair Neutron GTX
Corsair H100i
Windows 7 x64 

Overclocking

One of the downsides to review samples is that they have to be given to us early to enable us to test them so that we can let you know our thoughts prior to them going on general sale. This means that usually there is a beta-BIOS which doesn't often have issues but can, on rare occasions, not want to play ball with our Intel Engineering Sample CPU. The MSI MPOWER MAX AC is one such BIOS. It works well but the vDroop optimisation isn't perfect which means that, on our particular CPU, the voltage is a little less stable than we'd like and thus the overclock isn't fully stable. We still got a very impressive 4.9GHz from our i7-4770K which worked in nearly all of our tests. Unfortunately it wasn't fully stable in everything and so we've had to bench at 4.8GHz. 

The complex reasoning is if you set the BIOS volts to 1.26v the LLC under load ups the volts to 1.28 (way over what our CPU needs). The instant reaction is to lower the CPU volts so the LLC then ups it under load to 1.26, and we did indeed try this but because of the voltage fluctuation not always being as quick as the load programs put the CPU under it actually became unstable. MSI's last gen of boards had no vdroop issues to the point you didn't have to touch the LLC at all, we hope that with a BIOS revision or two this will be rectified but for the minute its a bit of a black mark against what is intended as an overclocking board.

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review     MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review

Temperatures

Naturally the side-effect of this fluttering CPU voltage is increased thermal loading, and so it's no surprise to see the MSI getting our Core i7-4770K much hotter than the ASUS Z97A did.

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Review

 

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Most Recent Comments

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. Quote

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 Quote

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!Quote

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.

JRQuote

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!!!Quote
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