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Z87 Motherboards: MSI
Next up we have a couple of boards from MSI, the Z87-GD65 Gaming and the Z87 M-POWER MAX. While we picture two MSI motherboards here, we should note that we used only the Z87-GD65 for all of the MSI benchmarks you’ll see a little later in this article. Since we had the M-POWER MAX on hand though, we thought many of you would like to see the board as well.
Like the other Z87 Express-based motherboards we’ll be featuring here, all of the Z87 chipset’s features are available on the MSI Z87-GD65, but MSI works a bit of their own magic as well. The MSI Z87-GD65 features a mouse-friendly that’s quick and easy to navigate and offers a full complement of overclocking and performance-related options as well. The board is also in MSI’s “Military Class 7” family and features super ferrite chokes, highly conductive polymer capacitors and / or solid capacitors throughout, which should offer increased stability and longevity, as well as lower total power consumption. The Z87-GD65 also has a digital PWM for more efficient power delivery.
The MSI Z87-GD65 also supports “1 second overclocking” thanks to its OC Genie 4 feature and button, but the UEFI sports all of the overclocker-friendly features we’ve come to expect from MSI for manual tweaking as well. MSI also includes their own Control Center software which gives users the ability the monitor and control system parameters from within Windows, with no need to reboot when making changes, and the board's got voltage check points too.
Other features of the Z87-GD65 include USB3.0 and CrossFire / SLI support, integrated voltage check-points, and “gaming device ports”, which are gold-plated PS/2 and USB ports designed for gaming peripherals. In addition to the aforementioned items, we should point out that the Z87-GD65 sports Sound Blaster Cinema audio with Audio Boost technology. Audio Boost incorporates gold-plated audio jacks, EMI shielding, and high-quality audio filtering caps designs to enhance the quality of the audio output on the board. The Z87-GD65 is also outfitted with a Killer E2200 network controller.
We found the layout of the MSI Z87-GD65 to be quite good and also like the dark red and black features on the board. Your tastes may vary, but we think this is a good looking motherboard.
MSI includes plenty of documentation with the Z87-GD65, in addition to an I/O shield, drive and utility CD, an SLI bridge, four SATA cables, front panel quick connectors, and a very cool Gaming G Series case badge. There’s nothing over the top about the board’s bundle, but all of the necessities are there.
The MSI Z87 M-POWER MAX incorporates virtually all of the features on the Z87-GD65 above, and then some. The first thing you’ll notice about the board is that is sports a completely different color scheme. This puppy is black and yellow and is outfitted with more elaborate PWM cooling. Before we talk about some of the more concrete features of the Z87 M-POWER MAX though, we want to point out something unique MSI is going with these boards. MSI Z87 M-POWER MAX motherboards all go through a 24-hour Prime95 burn-in test, using an overclocked, liquid-cooled CPU with no other cooling. MSI is taking this extra step to ensure the boards perform well and are stable while overclocked.
As we’ve mentioned, the Z87 M-POWER MAX has a similar feature set to the Z87-GD65 that includes Audio Boost, Sound Blaster Cinema Audio, Killer E2200 networking, OC Genie 4 with easy OC Buttons, Military Class 4 components, an all digital PWM, etc. But the Z87 M-POWER MAX incorporates a built-in WiFi / BlueTooth module that supports Intel’s WiDi Wireless Display technology as well.
The Z87 M-POWER MAX is targeted at the hardcore overclocking crowd and is also outfitted with voltage check points like the Z87-GD65 that can probed with a multi-meter to get precise, real-time voltage readings from a number of key power rails. Leads that attach to the board and make it simple to connect the multi-meter are included. And it's got dual 8-pin ATX power connectors to ensure more than ample power gets delivered to the CPU when overclocking.
The Z87 M-POWER MAX’s accessory bundle is pretty extensive. Along with a boatload of documentation for the hardware, software, and installation, MSI also throws in a case badge and “Do Not Disturb” door hanger, a bevy of SATA cables—including an external eSATA attachment—WiFi antennas, an I/O shield, SLI bridges and connectors that make facilitate connecting a case’s front-panel wiring.