|21-08-2012, 01:44 PM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 24 2006
Location: Adelaide, Australia
MSI Z77 MPower Preview
The friendly neighborhood courier brought me a shiny new MSI Z77 Mpower motherboard. I cannot release any results at this stage, but I can show lots of pretty pics.
First up, the box.
The bundle is pretty decent. There's a WiFi Antenna, SLI bridge, voltage read-point cables, case connectors and the flashy Military Class III certificate amongst the usuals you would expect.
Probably the main thing that jumps out when looking at the board itself is how clean the PCB is. Every crevice of some boards is filled with arrays of capacitors and resistors, but the Z77 Mpower really is one of the simplest looking PCB's you will see, especially amongst high end boards.
MSI have also adopted a splash of yellow which seems to be their theme in recent times as seen with the recent 7970 and 680 Lightning models. Personally I quite like the color scheme. The yellow is quite subtle and no, there aren't any bullets or Gatling guns this time around
The layout itself is pretty good. There are two fan headers at the bottom of the board (Yes!) The BIOS battery placement isn't ideal, but in the day and age of CMOS clear switches it is rare to need to have access to this battery. At first glance the voltage read points may look obscured by the 24 pin connector, but the board ships with small cables to connect to a DMM, so it's not a problem.
Screws for all heatsinks! All but the cheapest boards should have screw down heatsinks so its good to see them here. The cleanliness of the PCB extends to the rear with immaculate soldering and no protruding components.
A perfect illustration of the clean PCB is clearly illustrated by the shot of the socket area. Subzero overclockers will find nothing to hinder pots or phase evap heads. I don't recall ever seeing a socket area as clean and trouble free as this one.
The entire power delivery system is built with MSI's trademark Military Class III components, with DrMOS II integrated driver/mosfets, Hi-C capacitors and super ferrite chokes. I am not sure of the exact phase arrangement but I will check. I am guessing a 12+2+2 arrangement. You want to shove 2.0v + into the CPU? No problem.
Moving over to the memory slot area, on the right we see the power and reset buttons and the OC Genie button which as an automatic overclocking feature. There's voltage check points and an auxiliary 6pin power connector which can be used to provide supplemental power to the GPUs. A debug LED readout can be seen on the left.
The memory slots themselves will handle whatever speed the IMC of your CPU is capable of. Unofficially there is support for DDR3-3000+.
The SATA ports are the standard ports supported by the Z77 chipset.
Here we have the PCIe slot arrangement. The 16x slots are all PCIe 3.0 capable, while the 1x slots are all PCIe 2.0. The top slot is a 16x electrical slot, the second and third are 8x capable. For multi GPU's this will be in the form of x16 for single card, x8/x8 for dual GPU, and x8/x4/x4 for tri-GPU. Remember that these are PCIe 3.0 slots (with an Ivy Bridge CPU), and are equivalent in bandwidth to a 16x/8x/8x PCIe 2.0 setup like you would see with X58.
Moving over to the lower right section of the board, we see the manual switch to change between the two BIOSes. The other little button underneath the chipset heatsink is a feature called GO2BIOS. Usually, a user will hit 'del' to enter the BIOS at boot up, which can can be easy to miss. Pressing this button either powered up or down will automatically enter the BIOS on the next boot or reboot. It might sound gimmicky, but I think once you've gotten used to it, you won't want to go back.
The last pic shows the back panel connectors. Due to the primary design goal of making a top class overclocking motherboard, The WiFi and Bluetooth dongles represent probably the only major additional non OC related features of the board.
We also have a welcome PS/2 port, CMOS clear button, six USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. Ethernet duties are controlled by a Realtek RTL-8111E chip. Display capabilities come courtesy of Display Port and HDMI connectors. Audio outputs consist of an optical S/PDIF and the standard set of analogue ports. Audio capabilities are handled by a Realtek ALC 898 chip. Overall we have a full set of features for an overclocking themed board.
I cannot wait to start clocking this baby I am thrilled that MSI have developed an overclocker centric board and I am proud to have the opportunity to play with one.
BIOS shots and results to come in a week or so
|mpower, msi, preview, z77|
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