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MSI Z87 MPower MAX Motherboard Review

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ATX Motherboard Overclocking

There are few signs that a motherboard was designed for overclocking more obvious than dual EPS power connectors such as the ones we see on this motherboard. If you overlook those, perhaps the signed and dated 24-hour overclocking test sheet would be a clue, or the giant (handy!) fold-out overclocking tips sheet.

But the results on the overclocking test sheet were from an OC Genie “Gear 2″ overclock, which bumps the multiplier to 42x resulting in 4.2GHz. While the benchmarks in the previous sections show it’s a nice dollop of free performance, no automated process (yet) beats some hand-tweaking.

Although Intel’s made the classic base clock adjustment a viable overclocking mechanism with Haswell, my experience with this same is that it overclocks even worse than Ivy Bridge, itself a significant step down from Sandy Bridge. Granted, as of the time of this review this is the only functioning motherboard I’ve been able to test the Core i7-4770K in, but I suspect I won’t see anything dramatically better with other motherboards.

haswell_oc.jpg

Many people don’t seem to realize that Intel’s quoted maximum boost multiplier of 39x only applies to one core under load– load down all four cores, and you’re looking a only 57x (3.7GHz). Yeah, that’s conservative, and many motherboards (including this one) offer “Turbo Enhancement” features that run all four cores at the maximum multiplier. That’s the way I like to run, but you’ll need a really good cooler to be able to sustain a 45x multiplier under load for any amount of time. Like Ivy Bridge, Haswell runs very hot under load, 22nm low-leaking transistors notwithstanding. The best I was able to do was 4.5GHz on all cores at 1.3v. Even adding another 50MHz with a base clock tweak would cause the system to crash in some benchmarks.

Of course, this relatively modest overclock didn’t come anywhere close to needing the second 8-pin EPS power connector MSI provides, but perhaps it could be pressed into service for dry ice/acetone or LN2 runs.

I’ll give my final thoughts and conclusion on this motherboard in the next section.


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