We understand that there are no third-party SATA 6Gbps controllers; hence, the Z77 MPower features the standard fare of SATA connectors; two SATA 6Gbps and four 3Gbps connectors.
With the board's Multi-BIOS system, we are able to keep one set of BIOS for regular use and the other for back-up purposes. With the board in vertical orientation, flicking the switch left will toggle BIOS ROM A while BIOS ROM B is toggled when the switch is shifted right,
The standard rear I/O panel has been upgraded with the inclusion of wireless connectivity modules ; one supports Wireless 802.11 b/g/n networking and the other, Bluetooth 3.0+HS. Apart from the pleasantly unexpected inclusion of wireless connectivity options, the rest is of the ports are mostly standard fare. There are a total of six USB 3.0 rear ports; two of them are supported by the board's Intel Z77 chipset while the other four are courtesy of USB controllers from Renesas Electronics. A lone Gigabit LAN port sits above a pair of USB 3.0 ports, and we noticed that external storage options for this board are restricted to USB devices as there are no eSATA ports at the rear panel. VGA and DVI ports are absent, but there are HDMI and DisplayPort options for video output from the integrated GPU on the CPU. Other usual suspects include the PS/2 keyboard-mouse combo port and the block of audio ports.
The bundled Wi-Fi antenna is small and light as it is made out of plastic, but it is better than the one who we last saw with the ECS Z77H2-AX.
At first glance, the MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower sports the color scheme of the newer MSI Lightning graphics cards series like the MSI R7970 Lightning. Upon further examination, we noticed the improved CPU VRM by the way of twelve-phase power input versus the eight-phase version of the older MSI Z77A-GD65. With its OC Certified status and support for insanely highly overclocked DDR3 memory modules, its overclocking edge will probably be stronger than the former board. By virtue of it's OC Certified status, questions will arise from after-sales support when overclocking hiccups occur. According to our discussion with the product managers of the board at MSI's booth in Comutex 2012, they've mentioned that this series of boards will feature OC-in-Warranty support, which translates to better warranty terms for overclockers who damage their boards due to their OC attempts.
Well, we'll have to put the Z77 MPower through its paces to find out its performance gains and ascertain if these gains are worth its improved build and higher asking price. Alas, there is no information on its availability and pricing at this point of time, but do watch this space for more updates in our upcoming review.