Z77 OC Motherboard Shootout - MSI vs ASRock

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The Final Showdown: Overclocking

It’s one thing to compare scores in our standard spate of benchmarks, but it’s quite another to see how these mainboards can overclock; after all, in a head-to-head matchup of two boards that are built specifically for overclocking, this is where the rubber meets the road.

We tested both boards using the same components and chassis, and at the same ambient room temperature. All case fans were running, and we went with air cooling using our trusty dual-fan Corsair A70 CPU cooler. In both cases, we adjusted settings using the UEFI BIOS instead of relying on any Windows-based overclocking software.

For both of these motherboards, we tested the overclocks primarily by balancing the base clock and multiplier to find their respective sweet spots and raising the CPU core voltage to see what further performance we could eek out of them.

The contest was reasonably close, but the ASRock Z77 OC Formula won the day. We goosed the CPU up to 4.747GHz by upping the base clock to 101 and raising the multiplier to 47 with a CPU core voltage of 1.25V. The MSI Z77 Big Bang MPOWER wasn’t terribly far behind, but we could only muster 4.646GHz at 101x46 with the same 1.25V CPU core voltage.

It’s worth noting, however, that we discovered that the MSI board could handle a base clock of 108 with a lower multiplier, while we couldn’t the ASRock’s past 106.5 without experiencing crashes.

And this is where we drop the disclaimer: Expect better performance with a liquid cooling system as well as some additional time and tinkering.  You can spend weeks poking around all the various settings in these BIOSes and both boards offer experienced overclocker's lots of options and knobs to turn.

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