[section_title title=Test Setup & Overclocking]

Testing Setup:

Motherboard: MSI Z170 XPOWER Titanium Edition
Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.2 GHz
CPU Cooling: EK Supremacy EVO, Black Ice 140mm (fat), 2x 140mm fans in push/pull, DDC Ultra pump
GPU: GALAX GTX 980 SOC @ 1228 (1329 boost)/1800
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 2x8GB C14
PSU: Enermax MaxRevo 1350W 80PLUS Gold
OS: Windows 10 Professional x64

Previous Motherboard Reviews:

ASUS Maximus VIII Impact
ASUS Maximus VIII Hero



All benchmarks are done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit that is fully up-to-date with Windows Updates to ensure that the performance reflects a real-world scenario and not that of a tweaked benchmarking system. Every benchmark runs for a total of three times and then an average is taken of those results.

2D Benchmarks:

AIDA64 – CPU Queen/CPU Photoworxx/CPU AES/Memory Read/Memory Write
Cinebench 11.5 – CPU
Cinebench R15 – CPU
SiSandra – Processor Arithmetic/Processor Multi-Core Efficiency/Cache & Memory Bandwidth

3D Benchmarks:

3DMark 11 – Performance
3DMark Fire Strike – Normal

Gaming Benchmarks:

Company of Heroes 2 – Maximum Settings 1080P/1440P
F1 2015 – Ultra Preset 1080P/1440P
Total War: ROME II – Extreme Preset 1080P/1440P


As I mentioned earlier, I would detail my experience with the OC Dashboard in a slightly more descriptive and elaborative manner, so here we go. At a first quick look, it may not appear to be all that useful, but when you take a closer look at the board and realise what is actually located on the PCB, you will soon think otherwise. So what is this Dashboard malarkey all about and why is it useful? It is aimed at those who want to change their clocks on the fly, which can range from a multiplier tweak either up or down, to slowing the system to a crawl with the slow mode switch. Other adjustments which come in very handy during an overclocking session is the ability to adjust the BCLK at which your CPU is running. Again, this is all possible with the board. The final buttons that remain on the PCB are to do with your power options; on/off, restart and a discharge button. If you’ve never heard of the discharge button in the past, you probably aren’t the only one. What it is, is in fact a switch that completely drains the motherboard of all power, thus setting it back to factory defaults in its entirety, not just a simple CMOS reset. As an overclocker, it can be the case that you’ve set timings too tight or something wasn’t quite right, and the board just cannot recover from a failed boot loop. By discharging the board of all its power, it often resolves the issue as it then puts the motherboard back into its original factory state, allowing you to boot up once more. I’ve never had to use it as I didn’t push the board that hard (or I’m just that good … maybe?), but I can certainly see where it may be beneficial to have.

The buttons on the OC Dashboard do exactly as you’d expect, and that’s how it should be. Adjusting the BCLK was something that was very useful when I was playing around with a CPU that had a locked multiplier. You can choose the increment at which the BCLK raises within the BIOS. I found out that the CPU had a limit of 102.7 BCLK which was a similar story for all of the other motherboards that I tested, so you cannot fault the Titanium there. Anyway, that was more for a personal experiment and a bit of fun rather than for the purpose of this review, so it isn’t all too important. What is important is how it performed when I put my 6700K under stress to find out how it would perform.

Based on the testing which I always put the motherboards through in the overclocking segment of a review, I have to say I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. It is a high-end board, and has a high price tag to match; but it just wasn’t able to outperform cheaper alternatives such as the GAMING M7, another MSI product, or the ASUS Maximus VIII Hero – both of which are £60 to £70 cheaper than the Titanium. The results are, as always, extremely close; but the reality of the matter is that the Titanium was unable to obtain the results I was expecting from a motherboard that is in the £210 region, somewhere that you’d expect top performance and for a product to dominate more than it did.

Without being too negative about the slight disappointment from the performance of the board, I must commend it and state that it was in fact a very stable and easy to use motherboard. The BIOS works well for what it is at the moment – it’s still being tweaked daily by the BIOS boffins at MSI HQ. One thing which impressed me, as it did on the GAMING M7, is the recovery system that this motherboard has when your overclock fails. It worked flawlessly, and yes, I did also try out the discharge button … because, well let’s be honest here … who wouldn’t? It has a lightning bolt on the front and it intrigued me, so it had to be pushed! Every setting imaginable was reset to stock, and I think that this should be an implementation on any high-end motherboard, especially those geared towards overclocking, or at least partly geared towards it, like the Titanium. I had to give the slow mode feature a try as well, as that is something which us overclockers use profoundly. There’s nothing more frustrating than having just set a new personal best (or even a word record for some) and then the system locking up as you’re taking a screenshot. Slow mode prevents that by throttling the CPU to 800 MHz and therefore eliminating the vast majority of the chance that the CPU will crash on you before you make that all-important save.


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