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Four Z77-Based Mini-ITX Motherboards, Reviewed

Z77IA-E53 Firmware

The Z77IA-E53's firmware continues MSI's trend toward bulky buttons and tiny adjustments. It eagerly boosted our processor to the same 45x multiplier as the top two competitors, and in the same way stopped there. Under Windows 8, we couldn’t boost the base clock at all without causing services to crash.

Setting Vdroop Offset Control to 100% yielded a consistent voltage setting, but the CPU still crashed. It might have been luck-of-the-draw, but the more prone-to-sag 75% setting cleared up those issues.

The Z77IA-E53 didn’t have any problems setting our memory’s DDR3-2666 XMP profile, but our voltmeter showed a true 1.65 V only after dropping the motherboard’s set voltage to 1.633 V.

Primary and secondary memory timings are adjustable over a wide range.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.