MSI Z77 MPower LGA1155 Motherboard Review

Too often you have to buy an insanely expensive board, packed with features you probably won't use in order to get high end performance and overclocking oriented features. MSI is changing that with the Z77 MPower. This board has all the performance without the unnecessary fluff.

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MSI Control Center

MSI includes its Control Center with most of its motherboards. The Z77 MPower distinguishes itself here by including a re-skinned version of the application which matches the box art. The black and gold color scheme will make any fan of the Smokey and the Bandit films feel right at home. There was one flaw with the application while using it. The "More" button in the memory section always causes the application to crash. I saw this same problem on the MSI Z77A-GD55. Fortunately this is a function which is informative only and not settings related.

This version also has additional categories and settings available via the menu bar at the top. All one needs to do is choose the tab corresponding to the features they are looking for to access these.

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As you can see the two screenshots above show a wide range of settings. The application window is broken up into three sections. Mainboard, CPU, Memory, and Overclock. Within each you'll find information which corresponds to the header. A more button provides additional details. Though again not for the Memory section as the button causes the application to crash. The overclock section is a bit different as it has a laundry list of settings and therefore had to be done differently. The Mainboard section shows the board model number, chipset type, BIOS version and build date. The CPU section gives us the processor model number, available cores / threads, core speed, CPU multiplier ratio, base clock and CPUID. The memory section gives us a drop down to select individual slots, the memory type, size, manufacturer part number and speed.

The overclock section looks a lot different than the rest of it. Tiny drop downs give us a list of available settings for that value. We can adjust everything from the base clock and clock ratios, to CPU PLL voltage, DRAM voltage, and GPU voltage. There is one thing I hate about using this section. When you click on a drop down and choose a setting, you are forced to double-click that setting to make it work. Even worse is the fact that it tends to highlight the option three down from the one you selected initially. This happened to me using a variety of mice and it's also occurred on every MSI board I've worked with since this style Control Center appeared.

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The Mainboard "More" button shows model, chipset, Super I/O chip type, BIOS version, brand, and driver details. The CPU "More" button gives us the processor code name, socket type, manufacturing process technology, cores and threads, CPUID, family, model, revision, supported instruction sets, clock speed data and more. The advanced button for the CPU section gives us the ability to alter our clock ratios for each core. It also shows current utilization, temperatures, and the core ratio limit. The iGPU can be overclocked from here as well. The DRAM timings menu brings up our command rate and latency settings for the installed memory modules.

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The OC Genie tab at the top gives us directions on enabling the feature. It details the necessary steps and uses a flow chart to tell us what steps will occur. Essentially you just have to push the OC Genie button on the board. The Green Power menu gives us some basic monitoring information. The CPU fan and four headers are monitored and allow for the control of fan speeds based on temperature thresholds. You set a low and a high and adjust the speed of the fan by moving the blue and yellow lines around. These are RPM values which correspond to temperatures. What you do with this shows on the right hand side. Below that the CPU phase mode and fan speed profiles can be set. The LED section enables you to enable or disable the board's onboard LEDs. A diagram of the board shows the location of the LEDs for reference.

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The record function allows you to monitor voltages, fan speeds and temperatures and record these. This shows you trending and behavior during benchmarking or actual usage which you can review later. A time frame can be set for this as well as changing between Celsius and Fahrenheit temperature scales. You can also choose which values are to be monitored. You can choose to monitor everything, temperatures only, fan speeds only, or voltages only, and any combination in between. New for this version of the Control Center is the Mobile Control menu. This allows boards which are equipped with WiFi and Bluetooth to interface with a smart phone for control. The system requirements are listed as well. Though the paragraph which describes the feature set says it's for Android and iPhone the system requirements say nothing about the Android platform.