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MSI Z87 MPower MAX Motherboard Review

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MSI Z87 UEFI

I’ve never found MSI’s ClickBIOS graphical UEFI quite as easy to use or intuitive as some others. However, MSI has continued to refine it, and the latest iteration, ClickBIOS 4, is quite good. The basic layout remains the same: a central data area surrounded by six large “buttons” (SETTINGS, OC, M-FLASH, OC PROFILE, HARDWARE MONITOR, and BOARD EXPLORER) that select what functions, data, and settings are shown in the central area.

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There’s not enough room in any review to cover all of the dozens of pages available in this UEFI, so I’ll just hit the high points. The SETTINGS page is the entry for all the standard things you’d want to do to your board: configure the iGPU, USB, power management strategy, and other items.

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I had the most fun in the OC section, which is of course where you can adjust the clock frequencies, multipliers (depending on your CPU) and voltages to put your CPU, memory, and iGPU performance right where you want them. As with many vendors these days, MSI includes an Enhanced Turbo features that runs all CPU cores at the maximum multiplier under load. For example, with the 4770K, Intel’s maximum multiplier for a single core is 39x, but it drops to 37x when all cores are loaded. With Enhanced Turbo enabled, all four cores run at 3.9GHz.

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Of course, if you’re going to be overclocking (and if you’re not, why did you buy this board?), you’ll need fine voltage control of every conceivable point on the board. And of course there are other sections where you can set power characteristics like vdroop or the maximum amount of time increased current draw is permitted under load.

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Once you have your overclocking settings dialed in, you can save them in the OC PROFILE section.

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There’s an extensive hardware monitoring section, although as a monitor it’s of limited use since if you’re in the BIOS, the system isn’t going to be working too hard. Still, you can set detailed fan controls in this section, controlling fan speed by temperature, defining minimum and maximum speeds, and so on.

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But my favorite part of ClickBIOS 4 is the new Board Explorer. Similar to what Intel’s been doing with some of their boards, Board Explorer shows you exactly what’s plugged in where. In this shot I’m looking at the SATA ports, and my Seagate ST3500 drive is plugged into SATA port 1. This can be a great help, especially if your system’s in a case rather than out on a test bench. Mousing over the board sections like the RAM and PCI-E slots will show you what’s plugged into each.

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MSI provides lots of utility software with the Z87 MPOWER MAX, which I’ll cover in the next section.


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