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Posted October 11, 2012 by James Baranski (Drdeath) in CPU & Motherboards







Total Score


Price at time of Review: $210


MSI's Z77 MPower has outstanding performance and is a juggernaut of an overclocker.


Main power 24 pin area a bit cluttered, only 6 SATA ports.
If you're looking for great performance, top notch overclocking potential without breaking the bank, The MSI Z77 MPower is exactly what your looking for.
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by James Baranski (Drdeath)
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Z77 Chipset

Intel’s development follows their “tick-tock” strategy; that is, one swing represents a new architecture, and the next focuses on process improvements. This development cycle is about 2 years each, so here we are in 2012 with Ivy Bridge (Tick).

With the launch of Socket 1155 came the H67 and P67 chipsets, H67 was geared to the budget-oriented consumer, with onboard graphics and no overclocking abilities. P67, on the other hand, employed only discrete graphics but came with high performance overclocking capabilities. Each had pros and cons, and users were essentially forced to make a choice when going with a new hotrod Sandy Bridge processor.

The launch of the Z68 chipset changed that approach, as users can now benefit from the best of both worlds. The simple explanation is the Z68 is a hybrid of both H67 and P67, bringing onboard graphics and high performance overclocking in a single package. Recently, Intel launched the Z68 Gen.3 chipset and these motherboards are compatible with both Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge with a bios flash. The Z68 Gen.3 features PCIE 3.0 with one exception: Ivy Bridge operates with PCIE 3.0 but Sandy Bridge works at 2.0.

Here we are today, the Z77 chipset is here. Actually, Intel has 3 chipset controller hubs, the Z77 and Z75 and H77. The major differences between the 3 chipsets are not much, but the Z77 boasts more PCI slots while the Z75 sacrifices Intel Smart Response Technology ( SSD Caching) as the H77 has no overclocking ability (Just as the H67).

Here are the chipset features of each:

Now, as far as Z77 vs Z68 goes, let’s start with the most noticeable difference. The PCIE lanes can be split into different configurations, 16 x 1/ 2 x8 or x8/ x4, x4. This configuration is only available on the Z77 as the Z75 breaks them into 1 x 16x and 2 x 8x all with PCIE 3.0. The Z77 chipset also supports 3 independent displays along with 4 USB 3.0 ports and 10 USB 2.0 support. The Z68 chipset had no USB 3.0 support but boasted fourteen USB 2.0 ports. Both chipsets run dual channel and another noticeable upgrade is memory native speed increased from 1333MHz to 1600MHz.

Here is the Z77 chipset block diagram:

And contrasted against the Z68, below:

Let’s take a look at Ivy Bridge next to better understand where this board is coming from, and what it means for those looking to upgrade.

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    Too bad it doesn’t have cpu vcore offset like everyone else.
    A major failure for MSI.

    Vinny Petronio

    Great review and Awesome Z77 MPower MB from MSI

    James Baranski

    Duke, the offset may be a concern to you but the board is as good as any Z77 motherboard. It is not a failure al tall if you read the entire review.

    Kim Wheeler

    Thank you for a great review. I purchased this motherboard and I am in the process of buying a cpu for my new system. Will the new Intel Haswell be compatible with the MSI Z77 MPOWER? This is my first new computer in about 10 years and I am looking forward to this new upgrade.

    Paul Kuhn

    Will using the 3rd pcie full size slot for an OCZ Revo drive 3 cause the first pcie x16 slot (for gpu) to run at 8x because there is no plx chip on this motherboard?


    Doesn’t matter a hoot about offset settings.
    Its not going to make anything last any longer
    This is an excellent motherboard i own onn one.
    Better that “asas”,
    And I have used enough of their new style ’68, ’77 boards to judge
    I’ve bought my last of theirs


    My only bad is that the memory slots are too close to the CPU, after installing a PROPER cooler to I lost two slots, but it seems they had thought about because could change to the secondary banks

    But every penny well spend!!!

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