MSI Z97 MPOWER Review

👤by David Mitchelson Comments 📅24-09-14
Closer Look


12-Phase DigitALL Power Design


Around the socket, MSI has placed a combination of three burly heatsinks which are all interconnected via a copper heatpipe. These heatsinks cover the MOSFETs/VRM. MPOWER uses a 12Phase DigitALL Power Design to ensure pinpoint accuracy for voltage delivery. Combining this and the 12-pin EPS (CPU) power and the recipe for a good overclocker is certainly there. MSI uses Military Class 4 components throughout, which include HI-C CAPs, Dark CAPs and SFCs.

MPOWER is designed with LGA1150 and thus coincides with Intel’s 4th Generation and 5th Generation CPUs including the current 'Haswell Refresh' SKUs.


Plethora of features around the memory slots


MPOWER has four DIMM slots which support dual channel DDR3. This motherboard can accommodate up to 3300 (OC) and a maximum capacity of 32GB. As expected, Intel XMP is available too.

In the memory region MSI has positioned the V-Check points socket and two 4-pin fan headers. The V-Check allows advanced users to accurately monitor voltage via a multimeter.


Up to eight SATA 3 ports


Further along the motherboard there are a total of eight SATA 3 (6GB/s) ports for storage and a single USB 3.0 header port which is right-angled.


Large Intel Z97 heatsink


Behind the SATA ports and covering the Intel Z97 chip is a distinct and substantial heatsink. MSI has given the heatsink the “M” design to signify MPOWER.

In the bottom corner of MPOWER there is an LED debug panel for diagonising potential problems during POST. On the far left of the picture above there is a fast boot button which allows the user to boot directly into the BIOS without having to hit the “DEL” key on the keyboard – ideal if you have the board on a test bench. Next to this button is a BIOS switch, allowing you to move to and from a secondary BIOS. MSI has also included a “Slow” switch which resolves bootup issues that some high overclocks can present when booting into windows.


Multi-GPU support and much more!



In the graphics card department, MPOWER excels by supporting up to four solutions.

MSI has given MPOWER the following slots:

- 4x PCI Express 3.0 X16 slots
Operating at: x16 / x8 + x8 or x8 + x8 +x4
- 3x PCI Express 2.0 X1 slots


Additionally, there is an auxiliary PCI-E power socket to assist with delivering more juice, since a configuration of four graphics cards is extremely demanding upon the system.

In between the bottom two PCI Express X16 slots MSI has integrated an M.2 slot for use with an M.2 Solid State Drive. SATA ports 5 and 6 cannot be used if an M.2 drive is installed but users can enjoy up to 10Gb/s transfer rates.

Onto the topic of audio, MSI are using Audio Boost 2 on MPOWER.

Audio Boost 2 physically isolates the audio PCB for lower interference and makes use of a dedicated power interface to ensure that it's both more powerful and stable. In addition to the standard 7.1 analogue output GAMING-series motherboards are bundled with Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 2 software, boosting simulated surround-sound to headphones and headsets for more immersive gameplay.

USB Audio Power ensures a consistent 5V supply to the rear USB ports, even under the heavy draw a device such as a USB DAC would cause. A significant long-term weakness for USB, is great to see MSI and others address the quality of power being delivered to external peripherals.

Dual built-in amplifiers improve audio clarity to headphones of up to 600-ohm impedance, headphones which can be hooked up to either the back panel or chassis audio ports. High quality Nichicon Japanese Capacitors are specially designed for audio and enable the best possible filtering for high-end acoustics. Finally, golden audio connectors should increase long-term durability and signal quality.

Along the very bottom of the motherboard there are also some advanced features for Overclockers including:

OC Genie 4: Allows a one-second overclock (can switch between two settings)
Direct OC buttons: On-the-fly overclocking (Multi or Baseclock)
V-Checkpoints 2: Voltages can be read by up to three multimeters
OC switches: Enabling/disabling specific OC features


Plenty of USB 3.0 ports on the rear IO panel


Lastly we focus attention on the rear IO panel, this particular area has quite an assortment of USB 3.0 ports which is great to see. In this area we have the following:

- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF-out port
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x RJ45 LAN jack
- 1 x 6 in 1 OFC audio jack
- 1 x DisplayPort with max. resolution up to [email protected]
- 1 x HDMI ports with max. resolution up to [email protected]


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