Preview: MSI Z77 MPower
Category : Z77
Published by Christian Ney on 25.09.12
Do you like the design of MSI's latest Lightning graphics cards? Then you will like this motherboard for sure. The Z77 MPower is MSI's latest high end motherboard for Intel's recent Ivy Bridge processors. It belongs to the Big Bang series from the manufacturer, which is well known for being their flagship model suitable for overclockers and enthusiasts. Let's see if MSI managed to convince us with this so called Twin Frozr IV Based Design.

  Article in English   Artikel in Deutsch   Article en français   Articolo in Italiano

On the following pages we're going to show you if MSI succeeding in convincing us with their brand new Z77 MPower regarding layout and design.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Connectors and I/O
Page 2 - Specs and Delivery Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Layout

Discuss this article in the forums [pagebreak]

Specs and Delivery

CPU Supports 3rd Gen Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron processors for LGA 1155 socket
Chipset Intel Z77
Memory Dual Channel
4 x DIMM, max. 32GB, DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1866/2000/2133/2200/2400/2600/2667/2800/3000,
non-ECC, un-buffered memory, XMP 1.3
AMD CrossFireX
Lucid Virtu Universal MVP
Slots 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4)
4 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
Audio Realtek ALC898 HD CODEC
Storage 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77)
4 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77)
LAN Realtek RTL8111E PCIe Gigabit LAN
I/O internal - 3 x USB 2.0 connectors
- 1 x USB 3.0 connector
- 1 x Multi BIOS Switch
- 1 x TPM Module connector
- 1 x Front Panel connector
- 1 x Front Panel Audio connector
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
- 1 x Voice Genie connector (optional)
- 1 x MultiConnect Panel connector (optional)
- 1x Debug LED panel
- 1 x V-Check Points Set
- 1 x Power button
- 1 x OC Genie button
- 1 x Reset button
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x GO2BIOS button
- CPU x 1 / System x 4 FAN connectors
- ATX 24-pin Power Connector
- ATX 8-pin Power Connector
- ATX 6-pin Power Connector
I/O Back Panel - 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF-out port
- 2 x USB 2.0 ports
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports (2 ports by Intel® Z77, 4 ports by Renesas uDP72020)
- 1 x RJ45 LAN jack
- 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
- 1 x HDMI® port with max. resolution up to 1920x1200 @60Hz
- 1 x DisplayPort port with max. resolution up to 2560x1600 @60Hz
Formfactor ATX (30.5cm x 24.5cm)



  • 1x I/O Shield
  • 1x User Manual
  • 1x Software and Application Guide
  • 1x Quick Install guide
  • 1x Extended SLI Bridge
  • 1x Quick Case Connect Kit
  • 1x WiFi Antenna
  • 1x Driver CD
  • 4x SATA 6 Gb/s cables with locking pin
  • 4x V-Measure Cables
  • 1x Certificate of Quality and Stability

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Connectors and I/O
Page 2 - Specs and Delivery Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Layout

Discuss this article in the forums [pagebreak]


Like we mentioned in the introduction the MSI Big Bang Z77 MPower board comes with a Twin Frozr IV based design. Therefore the PCB has a matte black finish with a few yellow touches on the heatsinks. The heatsinks themselves have been shaped with a lot of attention to detail and come with a dark grey coloured schema. Combined it makes the design is very unique and good looking. The layout itself has been well thought and there are plenty of cool features - six USB 3.0 on the back, SATA 3.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, overclocking features and more ...

MSI equipped the Z77 MPower with a 12+2+1 phase digital power design with an UPI uP1618A taking care of the CPU VRM. This power design has one DRMOS for one phase rather than one DRMOS for two phases like on a lot of competitors motherboards. All those solid capacitors are part of MSI's Military Class III group of components so that's a pretty strong power design.
MSI added a set of LEDs to their motherboard just above the memory DIMMs. This set features twelve LEDs that indicate which phases are in use and thirteenth here to tell you if the VRM is overheating.
The memory gets a 2 phases digital power design here driven by a UPI uP1632P. Like the processor's power design you also find solid capacitors and one DRMOS for one phase.

Totally you'll find four DIMM-slots on the MSI Z77 MPower. Officially supported clock speeds from DDR3-1066 up to DDR3-3000. Max capacity is 32GB of non-ECC un-buffered memory. Keep in mind that to reach those memory clock frequency for a daily usage or even suicide run you need to have a processor with a kickass IMC (Integrated Memory Controller). By the way, the motherboard also has Intel's XMP 1.3 support.

Southbridge as well as current converters are being held at adequate temperatures via a passively cooled heatpipe loop. This loop consists of one single 8mm nickel-plated copper heatpipe and three aluminium made cooling blocks. Three because the southbridge one isn't part of the heatpipe loop, poor him. The cooling blocks have been very well manufactured and also very well attached to the board to provide enough pressure on the components they have to cool down. They are full dark grey colored with yellow strips and feature different inscriptions. For exemple the PCH cooler gets the MSI logo in silver, the CPU VRM one has Big Bang's name one while the one between the back panel and CPU socket is marked Military Class III.  The one just above the main PCIe slot has no inscription nor yellow strip and is here just for the design, it actually doesn't coola anything apart from being attached to the heatpipe loop.

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Connectors and I/O
Page 2 - Specs and Delivery Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Layout

Discuss this article in the forums [pagebreak]

Connectors and I/O

Totally MSI equipped the Z77 MPower with default SATA count for Intel's Z77 chipset. This means you get four SATA 3.0 and two SATA 2.0 connectors driven by the Intel Z77. No extra SATA chips.
Nothing special also if you look at the the PCIe connectors. With this motherboard you get three PCIe 16x Gen 3.0 and and four PCIe 1x Gen 2.0 all black coloured. From top to bottom for the PCIe 16x you have: 16 lanes, 8 lanes and 8 lanes. Which mean you can do 8x/8x SLI/CrossFire and 8x/4x/4x CrossFireX (3-way). Again nothing extra than what is provided by Intel's Z77, no PLX chip found on the PCB, MSI seems to keep things as simple as possible.
Something standard nowadays you find practical onboard power-, reset-buttons as well as a debug LED. But MSI added some extra stuff like a two physical BIOS switches as well as another switch to select which one you actually want to use. Furthermore there is an OC Genie button, voltage reading points and a Go-BIOS button. This last one is here to help you get into the BIOS on next boot after pressing it, Windows 8 ready I would say (for the record Windows 8 is know to be so fast to boot that you can't get into BIOS anymore spamming the del key.
The BIOS can be cleared by removing the battery or simply by pushing the clr_CMOS button located in the back panel. Common to multi-GPU boards these days you also find a power plug plug to provide enough power. This one has been located just next to the ATX12V and isn't a Molex plug but a PCIe-6pin. One will not like MSI for using a PCIe-6pin as most of power supplies under 700 Watts only have two PCIe-6pin power plug that will be used to power your graphics card(s) so you have kind of a problem. Luckily there are 6-pin adpaters which you can plug to two Molex connectors. Too bad MSI didn't think of bundling it to the Z77 MPower.


Totally you'll find five fan headers on the MSI Z77 MPower which is more than enough to provide even an overclocking rig or even a high-end gaming machine with plenty of fresh air. Bellow the locations of the fan headers, all of them are PWM (4-pin).  

Looking at the external connectors directly at the back-panel MSI equipped the Z77 MPower with one PS2 mouse/keyboard connector, six USB 3.0/2.0 ports (two provided by the Intel Z77 chipset and the four others by two NEC/Renesas uDP7220 controllers) along with a two USB 2.0 and one LAN gigabit ethernet port (provided by one Realtek RTL8111E). Furthermore there is a CLR CMOS button. Video outputs (one HDMI and one DisplayPort) are driven by a Parade PSB101 chip.
At first we saw MSI trying to keep things as simple as they could for the circuit of the board to make it like the X58-OC from Gigabyte, featuresless. But here we see that they added a Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi modules to their OC board. It doesn't match, why not make two different boards, one MPower and one MPower Bluetooth/Wi-Fi edition for exemple ?
As for the audio, the chip you find on this board is from Realtek and is an ALC898. This one gives you an an analogic panel (6 Jacks) and an optical connector.  

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Connectors and I/O
Page 2 - Specs and Delivery Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Layout

Discuss this article in the forums [pagebreak]


Allgemein   + -
The Z77 MPower is MSI's most beautiful motherboard they ever made. It is an high end motherboard  that comes with some nice features though in my opinion MSI could have done better. MSI chose to not overload this board with features to keep a low price tag especially for overclockers and enthusiasts but they added Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules still. It doesn't really fit, if I was MSI I would have made two version of this board then, one like it was supposed to be and one Wi-Fi/Bluetooth edition. I think this would have made it even more interesting because they were then able to lower the price even more. I would have also improved the bundle which is as poor as possible. Though the Overclocking Guide is really nice and well made there are only four V-Measure cables while you have seven voltage reading points on the board. You also get only four SATA cables while the board has six SATA connectors.   - Kickass Design
- Price
- Bundle
Layout   + -

Generally the MSI Z77 MPower's layout has been well thought. Once more practical are the angled SATA connectors that you can find on almost all motherboards now out there but MSI added something more, they also angled the USB3 connector. There are also practical power- and reset-buttons along with a clr_CMOS which one is on the back panel very accessible. Furthermore there even is a debug display which is very useful in case you should have issues with a component in your system or the board itself. Totally you find three PCI Express Gen3 x16 slots, which have been very well positioned. Between the two main PCIe 16x you will find two slot space to provide good airflow for a simple dual graphics card setup. I don't think you will make more than a two graphics card setup with this motherboard anyway because SLI is only up to two cards (8x/8x) and only CrossFire is up to three cards (8x/4x/4x). Otherwise you have four PCIe Gen2 x1 connectors.
MSI provided also their board with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, the rest is almost standard (six USB3, four SATA3, two SATA2, one internal USB3 connector (for two USB3 ports) and so).
As MSI's overclocking motherboard you get voltage reading points, OC Genie buttons and two physical BIOS with a switch to select the one you want.

  - Angled SATA and USB3 connectors - Power/Reset-Button onboard
- Debug display / CLR_CMOS
- 6x USB 3.0
- Bluetooth/Wi-Fi
- 2x BIOS
- Bluetooth/Wi-Fi?
- PCIe-6pin power plug instead of Molex?

Page 1 - Introduction Page 4 - Connectors and I/O
Page 2 - Specs and Delivery Page 5 - Conclusion
Page 3 - Layout

Discuss this article in the forums