One of the main boards we want to compare the MSI Z87I against is the ITX based ASRock offer we looked at just after Haswell launched. The ASRock Z87E-ITX did a good job of impressing us and it will be interesting to see how the MSI offering performs against it. Along with this MSI board that we'll be running at both stock and overclocked speeds today, we've also got a couple of other boards in our line up.
Staying with the Z87 offerings, we've got the ASRock Z87 OC Formula and GIGABYTE Z87X-OC. Along with those options we've also included the MSI Z77Z-GD65 Gaming and GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-Wi-Fi for good measure.
Before we get into the performance side of things, we want to cover overclocking. Heading into the BIOS, we adjusted the CPU voltage up to 1.3v, which is normally where we like to sit - somewhere between 1.3 and 1.35v depending on our overclock. When we moved to 1.3v, though, the text in the BIOS went to red, letting us know that the board really didn't recommend it.
So, we moved the voltage back slightly to 1.275v. We of course knew at this level we wouldn't be able to achieve the same overclock as we've attained on larger Z87 ATX boards which we've looked at recently. With that said, though, we fired up the 49x multiplier to get an even 4.9GHz to see if we could get the system up and running.
We got into Windows with no problems and started our MediaEspresso encode. Everything was looking fine, but with a high level of skepticism in my mind, I knew that a freeze or a BSOD was really just around the corner. After about 9 minutes into the encode, we eventually got that BSOD and rebooted the machine.
We headed back into the BIOS and proceeded to move the multiplier down to 48x, giving us a 4.8GHz clock. We got into Windows and completed a MediaEspresso encode with no issue. With that looking good we went back into the BIOS one more time to see if we could get anything else out of our CPU today.
After messing around with the voltages a little more, along with the BCLK, we unfortunately couldn't get anything else out of our i7 4770K on this board. While we could get fairly far through our MediaEspresso encode with a slightly elevated BCLK, we couldn't complete 100%. We always require the system to be 100% stable and because of that we settled on an even 4800MHz or 4.8GHz, as illustrated in our graphs today.