👤by David Mitchelson Comments 📅07-06-14

We’ve already reviewed a number of Intel Z97 motherboards and are aware of what to expect in terms of design and feature-set but MSI appear to have broken away and developed something quite spectacular in the Z97 XPOWER AC.

Beginning at the packaging, we’re generously given a multitude of accessories and MSI even go as far as to provide a pen drive that contains native drivers and allows for management of OC profiles. Documentation is also in abundance, helping you to get the most out of this motherboard but there are other items which help to set MSI apart from other motherboards which are specifically designed for overclockers; features like the OC fan stand – even if you don’t happen to have a test bench with a cooling fan bracket, MSI have catered for this and such a device can be mounted via the actual motherboard.

Throughout the benchmark tests we ran, XPOWER AC was consistent and demonstrated some pleasing results. The exhaustive feature-set is a particular trait which will be gladly welcomed by overclockers and hardcore enthusiasts. The wealth of features available cover just about every possibility whether you are wanting on-the-fly adjustments, voltage check points or fast BIOS boot – convenience and innovation are both clearly evident.

MSI’s overclocking division of motherboards has certainly carved out its own identity – the black and yellow theme we saw with the previous generation of Intel 8 series motherboards looked good but the new Intel 9 series line looks even better. A super smooth matt black PCB, black ports and slots with black and yellow heatsinks distinguish XPOWER AC from anything else and even though this may not be a concern for some users, the aesthetics are sure to astound. MSI has quite obviously spent their time thoughtfully and carefully designing this motherboard.

Although Intel’s new Haswell Refresh chips – Core i5-4690K and Core i7-4790K have been announced, stock isn’t due till later this month (June 2014) and therefore we are yet to see the performance benefits. We are confident that XPOWER AC will bring out the best from these chips and we’ll be using this motherboard to demonstrate stock and overclocked performance.

XPOWER AC is priced at £287 GBP / $400 USD which could be tough for some to swallow but it’s important to remember this motherboard is destined for passionate overclockers and avid enthusiasts. Specialised hardware with such a plethora of features has to be priced accordingly.

MSI’s XPOWER AC is a prolific motherboard which is one of the stronger Intel Z97 motherboards out there. This motherboard oozes style and finesse and whilst doing so satisfies the type of user which intends to push their hardware to the absolute limit.

+ Stunning visual appearance
+ Extensive accessories pack – including pen drive w/drivers
+ Good performer
+ Exhaustive feature-set including advanced OC options
+ Dual USB 3.0 headers
+ M.2 included
+ Up to 4-way SLI/CrossfireX
+ Military Class 4 components
+ Easy to use and attractive BIOS
+ Wireless/BT functionality

- Costly

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