Z77 OC Motherboard Shootout - MSI vs ASRock

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There must be something about black and yellow, because the MSI Big Bang Z77 MPOWER sports a similar look as the ASRock board. It has a black PCB with black slots and connectors, and the heat sinks are mostly dark gray with splashes of bright yellow.

Also like the ASRock board, physical buttons and switches abound; the power, reset, and OC Genie II buttons are clustered just to the right of the DIMM slots, and down below the Southbridge is a multi-BIOS switch and the GO2BIOS button, with a debug LED and voltage checkpoints connector just above. The I/O panel has a conveniently-located Clear CMOS button, too.

This is a socket 1155 motherboard to handle Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge chips, and the board supports up to 32GB of DDR3-3000 OC memory over four DIMMs.

MSI Z77 Big Bang MPOWER
Specifications & Features
CPU:

Chipset:

Memory:



Slots:


SATA:


USB:


Audio:



LAN:



Graphics:

Form Factor: 
Supports 3rd Gen Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1155 socket

Intel Z77


Support four DDR3 DIMMs 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2000*/2133*(OC),
2200*/2400*/2600*/2667*/2800*/3000*(OC, 22nm CPU required)DRAM (32GB Max)
Supports Dual-Channel mode

3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots

2 x SATA III by Z77, 4 x SATA II by Z77
SATA1~6 ports support Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (AHCI / RAID 0/1/5/10) by Intel Z77

6 USB 3.0 rear I/O ports (2 ports by Intel Z77, 4 ports by Renesas uDP72020)
1 USB 3.0 onboard connector by Intel Z77

Chipset integrated by Realtek ALC898
Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec

Supports one PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Realtek 8111E
Supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Supports Bluetooth 3.0+HS

Supports ATI CrossFire Technology, NVIDIA SLI Technology, Lucid Virtu Universal MVP

ATX Form Factor: 30.5cm(L) x 24.5cm(W)  


The three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots and four PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, which support multi-way SLI and CrossFireX setups, and there are four SATA 6 Gbps and two SATA 3Gbps ports, as well. Six of those SATA ports support Intel Rapid Storage Technology for RAID 0/1/5/10.

The rear I/O panel includes the aforementioned Clear CMOS button as well as a PS/2 port, optical S/PDIF out, Gigabit LAN port, 6-in-1 audio jacks, HDMI, DisplayPort, two USB 2.0 ports, and 6 USB 3.0 ports. For handy connectivity, there’s a Bluetooth module and a WiFi module with a jack for the included antenna, too.

  

The MPOWER Difference -
As you might expect, the MSI Big Bang Z77 MPOWER does not want for overclocking features. Before these boards ship, MSI burns them in for 24 hours with Prime95 and a liquid-cooled overclocked CPU so they can proudly wear the “OC Certified” title. (Lest you doubt the veracity of your exact board’s certification, it comes with an embossed certificate.) The board is built with MSI’s Military Class III components for longevity under intense working conditions, and the Superpipe cooling design is meant to improve the board’s ability to pull heat away from power array and processor area.

    

In addition to being able to adjust overclocking settings the traditional way, users can create an overclocking profile in OC Genie II within the (very fine-looking) UEFI BIOS and call those settings up with the press of a button. The Instant OC feature of MSI’s Command Center software has a few preset overclocking configurations, too.

    

Speaking of software, MSI packed the included disc full of it; in addition to the aforementioned, the bundled software includes the excellent MSI Live Update 5, MSI Suite application launcher and backup manager, Super Charger for quickly charging attached devices, Winki III for limited use of certain applications without booting into Windows, audio and video genies, network and teaming genies, Lucid Virtu, Click BIOS II to tweak BIOS settings from within Windows, and more.

Little treasures that come in the box include an I/O shield, the WiFi antenna, V-Check cables and a quick guide, a handful of SATA cables, an installation guide, software and application user guide, user manual, drivers and utilities disc, a Certificate of Quality and Stability, and a glossy fold-out overclocking guide.

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Great shootout, I was pumped up to read this as I just picked up the MSI board and the i7-3770K for $467 at frys.com over the past weekend. Now to complete the build. It's been a long time since I built my own system, anyone have any recommended sites to review proper OC settings? Thanks!!

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Forgot to add that also has a $40 rebate. Here is the link: http://www.frys.com/product/7411335?site=sa:adpages page:P6_SUN date:112512

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Now I'm feeling the urge to upgrade...

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No thunderbolt plugs ? In 2013 ? For OC users ? Seems strange for me.

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On a purely aesthetic basis, I like the ASRock better. I do think I would lean more toward the MSI for a purchase mostly because of the Military Class III components. I also like that each of the motherboards have been tested and certified. All in all, they both seem like excellent motherboards.

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Both boards have turned out to be popular with consumers.

I'd like to own either one of them.

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Pretty nice either one of them. I know MSI is doing their whole gaming series z77 MBs now it would be nice to see how they stack up.

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I cringe whenever I see Asrock... they're prices are so competitive and I went for it with my first build (890FX) but it had issues with drivers that were just corrupted with no solutions that caused incessant BSOD's.  I eventually just had to go without a couple drivers, and I'm not sure if it's related to this as well but it would do strange things involving booting such as not booting when devices where in certain USB ports and only booting when a device was in another USB port.
I don't think I'll be buying anything from the again and I suggest others do the same

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I've never bought ASRock boards but the few people I know that have didnt have really an issues. Drivers were something a couple of them had issues with but either found a workaround or ASRock got out an update. 

Before I bought my current asus sabertooth board I almost bought one but found mine new for $120 bucks and couldn't pass it up.

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OSunday:
I cringe whenever I see Asrock...

And it's just the opposite for me. I have four ASRock motherboards (two Z68, one 990FX and one N68) and one ASUS FM1 board too. I have no issues with any of them. Loading all of the latest drivers from the websites help to make this so.

I recommend the ASRock brand.

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