MSI Z87 Motherboard Roundup: Rockin Haswell

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The MSI Z87 MPOWER Max, with its yellow-and-black design, is built for overclocking. In addition to the Military-Class 4 components mentioned earlier, this board features an all-digital power PWM controller, a PCB built with more layers to better isolate traces and reduce interference, and a robust thermal design that’s designed to work well even in low airflow scenarios and to accommodate a variety of coolers.

The board also features v-check points, a debug LED, and dual BIOS chips. There’s an OC Genie button attached to the PCB, as well as DirectOC +/- buttons, so you can make some overclocking adjustments from the board itself.

Specifications & Features

Onboard Graphics:

Expansion Slots:


Form Factor:
4th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors for LGA 1150 socket
Intel Z87 Express Chipset
Supports two DDR3 DIMMs 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2000*/2133*/2200*/2400*/2600*/2666*/2800*/3000* (*OC) MHz,
   up to 32GB Max
Supports Dual-Channel mode; non-ECC, un-buffered memory; Intel XMP
1 x DisplayPort with max. resolution up to 4096x2160@24Hz, 24bpp/ 3840x1600@60Hz, 24bpp
2 x HDMI ports with max. resolution up to 4096x2160@24Hz, 24bpp/2560x1600@60Hz,
   24bpp/ 1920x1080@60Hz, 36bpp
Realtek ALC1150 Codec (7.1-Channel High Definition Audio)
Supports one PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Killer E2205 Gigabit LAN controller
3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, 4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
SATAIII controller integrated in Intel Z87 chipset
Supports six SATA ports (SATA1~6) by Z87, up to 6Gb/s transfer speed
1 x mSATA 6Gb/s port
SATAIII controller integrated in ASMedia ASM1061 chipset
Supports two SATA ports (SATA7~8) by ASM1061, up to 6Gb/s transfer speed
Intel Z87 Express Chipset
4x USB 3.0 ports (available through the internal USB connectors)
6x USB 2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB connectors**)
ASMedia ASM1074 Chipset
4 x USB 3.0 ports on the back panel
Renesas uPD720202 Chipset
2 x USB 3.0 ports on the back panel
About $259

The Z87 MPOWER Max can handle up to 32GB of DDR3-3000 (OC) memory, and it has the same PCI slot layout as the Z87-G45--three PCIe 3.0 x16 and four PCIe 2.01 x1--with the same support for multi-card GPU configurations. There are eight total SATA 6Gbps ports, six from the chipset and two from an ASMedia chip, as well as an mSATA 6Gbps port.

This motherboard wants not for USB, either, as it supports up to sixteen USB ports, only six of which are USB 2.0. Ten of the ports are from the chipset, but oddly, there are actually two additional chips providing the rest. Four are courtesy of an ASMedia chip and two more come from a Renesas chip.

Like the Z87-G45, the Z87 MPOWER Max has a Realtek ALC1150 codec that supports 7.1-channel HD audio, as well as the same Audio Boost feature. It also has a Killer E2205 LAN controller and a single LAN port, and the PS/2 and two USB 2.0 ports on the I/O panel have the same high polling frequency mouse support.

The rest of the ports and connectors on the I/O panel include a Clear CMOS button, six total USB 3.0 ports, optical S/PDIF, six audio jacks, and a strong spate of onboard graphics ports that consists of a DisplayPort and two HDMI ports. All three support 4K resolutions and up to three monitors.

MSI saw fit to include a WiFi module that slots into a header adjacent to the I/O ports and offers 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel WiDi. The module includes two antennae.


Although the Z87-G45 didn’t come with a great deal of extras, the Z87 MPOWER Max came fully loaded. In addition to the driver discs, user manual, quick installation guide, a certificate of quality and stability, a pictorial board reference guide, I/O shield, and the aforementioned WiFi module and antennas, the box includes a Do Not Disturb door hanger, case badge, seven SATA cables, a MOLEX-to-SATA power adapter, SLI bridge, v-check cables, M-connector adapters, dual eSATA port bracket, and two-port USB 3.0 bracket.

It’s a good thing the M-connector kit is in there, because like the Z87I, the Z87 MPOWER Max don’t label the power and reset headers.

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