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MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC (Intel Z97) Motherboard Review

By: Shawn Baker | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: May 20, 2014 2:37 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: MSI

Close up with the MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC




Taking a look at the MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC for the first time, you can see the Black and Yellow color scheme that is synonymous with the MPOWER Series from MSI. You can see a pretty nice looking heat sink setup going on around the CPU area and some of the main features. We'll move in a bit closer, though, and cover everything in a bit more detail.




Starting off with the expansion slot area, you can see we've got four PCIe x1 slots along with three PCIe x16 slots. These run in the standard x16 for one card, x8/x8 for two cards, and x8/x4/x4 for three cards. Sitting above the top most PCIe x1 slot, you can see a 6-Pin connector if you want to make sure power is nice and clean to your PCIe slots.


Most people won't worry about this unless you're running a serious video card setup. Between the two bottom PCIe x16 slots towards the back, you can also see the new M.2 connector. This is the second board we've seen provide this connector, and it's one of the main features that is brought to the table with the Z97 chipset.




Moving away from the PCIe slots and to the bottom of the motherboard, you can see the normal line up of fan and USB 2.0 connectors alongside our front panel headers and a Debug LED reader. Above that, you can also see a little button that allows you to go straight into the BIOS, making sure you don't miss it, which is something that will be handier for the more hardcore overclocker.




Turning the corner, you can see we've got a total of eight SATA III ports on offer. Six of these run off of the Z97 chipset, while the last two run off the ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. Next to these, you can also see a USB 3.0 header to round off this corner of the motherboard.




Heading to the north end of the board, you can see we've got a fair bit going on here. Of course, we've got the standard four DIMM slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR3 ranging from 1066MHz to 3300MHz DDR via overclocking. Behind that, you can also see our main 24-Pin ATX power connector, and to the left, we have our second USB 3.0 header.


It's all the extras that have our eye, and they sit to the right of our main ATX power connector. Starting from the left, we have a - and + that are used to adjust the BLCK on-the-fly. Next to that, we have our standard reset and power buttons along with the OC Genie button, which offers auto overclocking.


We also have the Discharge button that helps discharge all power from the motherboard in the same way removing the battery would. We also finish up this corner with our V Check Points that allow us to check the voltage in a number of areas, including CPU System Agent, CPU Ring, GPU GFX, CPU Core, Memory, and CPU VVCIN.






Moving around to the CPU area, you can see we've got the standard 8-Pin CPU Power connector; next to that, though, you can see we've also got a 4-Pin connector. Using both helps provide a better line of power to the system. While most users won't need to make use of it, if you're interested in doing some serious overclocking, it's a nice feature to have. Stepping back and looking at the CPU area, you can see a really good looking heat sink setup.


You can see that both ends offer a barb for water cooling. This is again a feature that isn't going to be for everyone, but if you're into the more serious side of overclocking, the addition of this heat sink setup is really nice.




Finally, we finish off our look with the I/O panel. Starting from the left, you can see we've got two USB 2.0 ports below a combo PS/2 port. Moving along, you can see we've got a Clear CMOS button and four of the total eight USB 3.0 ports that are present here. Two of the USB 3.0 ports run off of the Intel Z97 chipset and six run off of the ASMedia ASM1074 chipset.


Gigabit networking is offered via the Intel I218-V chip, while video out options come in the form of HDMI and DisplayPort. Finally, we finish up with our audio options, which include six auxiliary ports and an optical out port, all running off of the Realtek ALC1150 HD Codec.

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