Product Listing

MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower - Sanctioned Overclocking!

By Wong Chung Wee - 5 Nov 2012
Launch SRP: S$339



The MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower sports the color scheme of the newer MSI Lightning graphics cards series like the MSI R7970 Lightning. True to these extreme graphics cards, your would also expect the same level of hardware refinement from MSI's top brass motherboards and it does deliver reasonably well from the hardware point of view. MSI's technical staff have been communicating the design aspect of this board and we've come to understand that the CPU VRM is driven by a sixteen-phase power input versus the eight-phase version of the older MSI Z77A-GD65 - this is quite a leap given that the GD65 model is far from being a mainstream board itself and is well equipped for its class.The Z77 MPower even has a dedicated dual-phase power input to support highly overclocked DDR3 memory modules rated up to 3,000MHz! Not only does more power phases help overclock aspects, they also help in the board's power consumption aspects. If all things were equal, a board with more power phases is usually more power efficient than one with less power phases and it seems to be the case for the Z77 MPower.

Hardware aside, one of the bigger features and selling points of this board is its 'license to overclock'. 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 MSI product managers of the motherboard, 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 overclocking attempts. Of course, you're likely to damage your processor first than the board, but still, this is interesting news for the overclockers at heart.

The striking MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower motherboard seems to come with the right credentials and hardware, but doesn't quite live up to expectations in overclocking. Every other aspect of the board ranks pretty well though.

From a performance standpoint, the non-overclocked Z77 MPower is rather impressive and its scores put it squarely in the top ranks of the high performing Z77 boards that we have already tested. However, its overclocking performance was somewhat disappointing as we 'only' managed to hit a final stable clock speed of 4.3GHz. As mentioned earlier, while the net overclock is decent, it's not to the expectations set by other boards we've tested. The motherboard managed rather high base frequencies (by increasing the voltage of the board's CPU PLL), but when we tried obtaining the highest possible CPU clock speed, it wasn't able to drive the base frequency as high in combination with the CPU core ratio. On a side note, beginner level overclockers are advised to invest in a custom CPU cooler as we have stated earlier that the current generation of Intel Core processors run hot.

The board's overall feature set is a decent mix and we were pleasantly surprised by the six rear USB 3.0 ports and the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity options. It would have been a bonus if MSI had included Thunderbolt support for the board as this feature would have been the cherry to top of its features list. The board is currently available at S$339, which makes it one of the most expensive Intel Z77 Express chipset boards on the market. The premium paid may be justified in terms of the peace-of-mind enjoyed as overclocking is officially endorsed by MSI; however, in terms of the absolute performance boost enjoyed, the budget-conscious overclocker may be advised to look elsewhere for a better bargain. MSI has somewhat guaranteed its overclocking capabilities and as part of its marketing efforts, the board is "4.6 GHz OC" ready, when paired an Intel Core i7-3770K CPU (which unfortunately, we didn't manage to get to that level).

Had the Z77 MPower exhibited high air-cooled overclocking performance compared to the competition, its value would be easily justifiable. Alas, while the board has good hardware specs, has low power consumption, doesn't operate hot set and it has good intentions to safeguard motherboard overclocking, it didn't quite live up to its namesake to deliver top tier overclocking performance. Despite that, we do believe there are some users (with deep pockets) who will appreciate some peace-of-mind and wouldn't mind buying into MSI's 'assurance package' to have one less component to be concerned about while practicing their overclocking attempts. The concept sounds good, but we wish the OC-in-Warranty support is extended to other board models to make it more accessible (in terms of affordability).

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  • Performance 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 6.5
The Good
Excellent non-OC performance
OC Certified by MSI
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
6 x rear USB 3.0 ports
The Bad
Rather expensive
OC performance didn't impress
No support for Thunderbolt
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