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MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Review

ccokeman    -   July 11, 2013
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MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Testing:

Testing MSI's Z87-based MPOWER MAX motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and  AMD Catalyst 13.6 drivers for the XFX HD 7970. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings making this point a valid concern so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Socket 1150

 

Comparison Motherboard:

 

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Overclocking the Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K via MSI's Click BIOS 4 is going to be similar to what you would find on the MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming in that the GUI is the same with a change in color to match the color scheme of the Z87 MPOWER MAX. Adjusting the bclock to unheard of levels is gone to a point as there is some room with the use of bclock straps that allow the user to increase the bclock to preset ratios of 100MHz, 125MHz, 166MHz and even 250MHz all while keeping the PCIe clock at 100MHz. Variation away from the main strap should fall in the 1-5% range without some serious voltage tuning. The first steps I took to get my 4770K to its maximum clock speed was to adjust the CPU Ratio to 47 and the Ring Ratio to 46 to give me a clock speed of 4700MHz when multiplied by the set bclock of 100MHz. Next up I set the CPU PCIE PLL to SB PLL and Filter PLL to enabled. Tuning the voltages provides the real means to get the overclock you want. A few caveats though with this platform.

First, maximum CPU clock speed varies wildly even between very similar batch codes. Second, it runs hot, damn hot. When talking to MSI before the Z87 launch the company stated that it has seen both low volt, high clock CPUs as well as quite a few dogs that could only muster 4.3GHz with high voltage. Something seen first hand when I visited another manufacturers tech day. Where in the past voltage and cooling had been the way to the GHz promised land, with IVB and now Haswell, we have shifted away from that road and are now fighting heat just to stay competitive due to the massive amount of hardware under the lid and the small die size that generates that thermal load. My specific 4770K is not the best out there in terms of clock speed for voltage applied but can manage 4.7GHz with up to 1.35v to the core, 1.30 to the ring bus, and 1.65v to the DDR3 DIMMS.

So back to the tuning on the Z87 MPOWER MAX. After playing with the voltages I found that 1.275v on the core, 1.265v on the ring bus, +.40v to the system agent voltage, and keeping the memory at 1.65v all seemed to deliver the stability I was looking for at 4.7GHz. Leaving the rest of the settings at factory default shows that MSI has done some work to keep its auto rules pretty sound allowing for almost point and shoot overclocking.

However it does get even easier to overclock the MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX if trolling through the Click BIOS 4 is not your idea of fun or have very little idea what function each of the settings performs. Using MSI's OC Genie 4 makes it that one button push experience with two settings used by the tool. Gaming mode or Gear 1 will get you to 4.0GHz, while Gear 2 will get you to a solid 4.2GHz. If that's not enough you can use the Base Clock control buttons to ratchet up the bclock a little higher or lower depending on the CPU bclock strap you choose to run. OC Genie 4 just works right out of the box.

OC Genie 4 works as intended, but for the manual tuner you can boost up the clock speed by reducing the clock multiplier and changing the bclock strap to 125-100 or even 166-100. Just keep in mind you will need to make sure your memory multiplier will need to be reduced to run the higher bclock. Using the gear ratios or CPU straps is the best way to run higher memory speeds since it gives you more flexibility in terms of overall speed. To see if this board was up to running higher memory speeds like the rest of the boards I have tested, I again pulled my G.Skill Trident 2400MHz rated modules out and saw that I could still reach over 2600MHz on the Z87 MPOWER MAX. Overall the MPOWER MAX delivers excellent overclocking results that offer stability and all the clock speed your CPU can give.

 

 

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed over-clocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing. A mall note that the CPU used on the ASUS P8Z87-Plus differed from the CPU in this review resulting in lower overall overclocked scoring in many of the benchmarks.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Diskmark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro: Last Light
  3. DiRT 3



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