On the bench today is the MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC, MSI’s top end Z97 of the MPOWER line.  The Z97 MPOWER is geared toward the enthusiast overclocker and provides features that they will benefit from.  The MSI MPOWER line has been known as a great overclocker’s board that provides very good price to performance and features since they were introduced with the Z77 MPOWER.  This board to the limits on the test bench, and the review and see how it handles the new Devil’s Canyon CPU — the i7 4790K.

 

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Test Hardware:
MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC
Intel i7 4790K ES
TEAM Vulcan DDR3 2400 2x8GB # TLD316G2400HC11CDC01
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme AIO cooler
Mushkin Chronos 240GB SSD # MKNSSDCR240GB
Silverstone Strider 1KW PSU
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit

Gentlemen, start your overclocking

The BIOS is very easy to navigate and is geared for the enthusiast, while also making things simple for those who are not as familiar with overclocking. This is done by hiding some of the options with a simple and advanced view toggle. The layout is easy to learn quickly with a bit of time using the BIOS while fine tuning the board. The navigation is much faster using the keyboard instead of the mouse as you can navigate much faster this way.

Overclocking the 4790K was very easy; the only things needed to be touched in the BIOS were the CPU voltage and the CPU multiplier. The process for this was to see how far it would go while staying stable. Starting the CPU voltage at a high level of 1.45v was done to find the highest stable clock, which ended up being 4.7GHz. Working down the voltage in steps was done to find the lowest stable, which was 1.29v. These settings proved to be very stable when paired with a closed loop water cooling system. The highest the 4790K was able to go on a single core and thread was 5.15GHz

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Cinebench r11.5

The 4790K scales nicely in Cinebench r11.5 with the increase in frequency

 

 

One issue that did come up was with the MSI Command Center application. Found in early testing of the board with the application installed but never used, it caused the board to adjust CPU core voltage to 1.2v upon windows loading. While having set in BIOS the cpu core voltage to 1.45 at a speed of 4.7GHz the board would post and start to load windows just fine, but when loading windows the core voltage read by a multimeter went to 1.2v. Upon troubleshooting it was clear that the app was responsible for adjusting the voltage at startup. MSI was informed of this and recently attempted to recreate this issue and with the latest version of Command Center and BIOS the issue seems to be taken care of.

Worth a buy?

With the features that the MSI MPOWER MAX AC packs in at it’s price point this would be a buy. The board is very user friendly while being able to power some great overclocking results makes it ideal for an enthusiast board. The color scheme is very pleasing, though it could clash greatly with the some common color schemes. The board is high quality, stable, and performs very well — three things that are sought after in components. If chosen for a build this board will find it hard to disappoint someone, as evident from the owners of the previous two generations of MPOWER motherboards.