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Z87 Hits The High End: Four Sub-$300 Motherboards

Z87 MPower Max Special Features

MSI enables two automatic overclocking levels via its O/C switch, which can then be enabled using either its OC Genie button or a UEFI setting. Power and reset buttons next to these are handy if you prefer to overclock on an open test bench.

The "+" and "-" buttons add or subtract base clock frequency, but are not the expected hardware-level controls. They’re instead enabled in Windows through Intel’s ME driver. MSI adds an application to select whether the buttons operate in 0.1 MHz (default) or 1.0 MHz steps.

Strangely labeled “FASTB1”, MSI’s documentation refers to the button on the Z87 MPower Max’s lower-front corner as BOOT2BIOS. Using it does exactly that, letting you get into the board's firmware without missing your opportunity as Windows boots up (particularly useful in Windows 8).

A POST code display above that button conveys system status to help overclockers diagnose where the boost process is failing. A selector switch gets you into an on-board backup ROM. 

Removing the cover of MSI’s custom I/O-panel riser card reveals a standard mini-PCIe Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo module from Intel. This single-band controller has two antenna connectors, and the included extended-range antennas can be seen on the previous page.

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