Bazinga - how do you like them apples ! What a lovely motherboard the new Big Bang Mpower Z77 is. The sheer looks are just fantastic and the performance grand. Now I do have to get this out of the way though, 95% of the DNA is the Z77 GD65 really. However, the motherboard has been improved at a couple of levels. The improved power circuitry first and foremost. MSI likes to call this an overclockers PCB, it's built for stringent OC conditions by cleaning up the power impedance. Admittedly through, if you stick to air based heatpipe cooling pretty much any Z77 motherboard out there will get you at the 4600 MHz range with a 3770K. From there and upwards it's all about luck and quality components.
The baseline performance of the board is really good. MSI increased the default Turbos a little peaking towards 3900 MHz and that makes all the difference in overall performance and in fact gives the motherboard leading performance. There's way more room left for some extra though. We achieved a cool 5 GHz overclock on this motherboard, the processor however becomes too hot for air based cooling, so liquid cooling does come recommended. But one thing is a fact, the board can take it.
Obviously we have to talk about the looks. The new Mpower design just rocks IMHO. The PCB is extremely dark including the connectors, when the subtle heatsinks themed with the yellow striping hint towards MSI's Lightning products, more overly .. the Twin Frozr IV cooler from MSI. It's not by accident that MSI would like you to look and match product based on color schema
With the Mpower you get a very versatile motherboard with some enthusiast options like the onboard buttons, USB 3.0, voltage monitoring, some SATA3 ports and sure, a mainboard that looks real good. The inclusion of WIFI is much welcomed as well. Overall non-overclocked performance seems to fall in the same baseline as all other Z77 motherboards we tested, with an offset here and there of course.
If that's not enough for you then press the OC Genie II button, power up and after a few seconds your motherboard all of the sudden will be mildly overclocked, a performance boost at very little extra power consumption as the CPU will now be throttled to 4200 MHz.
Throughout the review we have shown you that the motherboard can run a 3770K processor at 5 GHz, this however required a dual-fan Noctua D12 heatpipe cooler. Temps where way too high for long term usage, so really in the 4.6~5.0 GHz region, liquid cooling is the most logical cooling method to use.
The overclock itself takes merely a few minutes to setup in the uEFI based Click BIOS II, but really after that you are good to go. Again I do have to say though that Ivy bridge processors run hotter when overclocked opposed to Sandy Bridge, reaching 4.8~5.0 GHz on a motherboard like this is fairly easy to accomplish, but you'll find yourself needing juice in the 1.380~1.4 Volts range of the processor. So again, be prepared for processor heat, and proper cooling -- or settle for a lower clock frequency and voltage.
As shown we did use G.Skill's new Trident X 2666 MHz memory as well, and in the BIOS we simply flicked the XMP profile to on and boom, the memory was running at a rather marvelous clock frequency of 2666 MHz. Astonishing really, though that DDR3 frequency alone will not bring you heaps of extra performance.
So its time to round things up, now here it is: now the price point of the MSI Big bang Z77A MPower is lower then you guys might think. We spotted it here in the Netherlands for as low as 190 EUR. So the 200 EUR marker seems to be its sweet spot. Take for example the Z77A GD80 which is 95% similar, that one has a pricing of over 235 EUR.
Truth be told though, all the Z77 motherboards we have had in our hands are able to at the very least reach 4600~4700 MHz on the 3770K processor, but it was just easy to setup with this motherboard. Fiddle around with the multiplier and voltages alone is enough to reach good results with just heatpipe based cooling.
We can explain all features over and over again, but I'll keep this conclusion simple. The Z77 Mpower offers everything you need from a proper Ivy Bridge platform, in terms of features, multi-GPU support, USB 3.0, SATA3, PCIe Gen 3.0, ease of tweaking and sure, the design and component selection is done right as well. We would have liked to see some more SATA3 ports though, but other then that we have little to complain. Albeit, an extra PCIe x16 slot with the help of a PLX chip would have been nice as well, but that would have driven the price up significantly.
The Z77 Mpower is a great quality motherboard that will appeal to the enthusiast PC gaming crowd very much. Especially the DIY PC builders that like a dark themed PC will adore this one. And yeah, that's how important looks are in the world of hardware really. Source: http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/msi_big_bang_z77_m...