Z77 OC Motherboard Shootout - MSI vs ASRock


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.

Specifications & Features









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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