MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Motherboard Review

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Overclocking

Overclocking on an overclocker-orientated motherboard should be easy, stable, and quick to set up so that you don’t chew through half of your LN2 supply before even entering Windows. The BIOS was easy to use and it was smooth too. With the introduction of UEFI BIOS systems, it often brought lag into the equation where it would take a while to change the menu or select an option. That was not an issue with the XPOWER though. Fluid motions made the BIOS a pleasure to use and it’s a good example of how a BIOS should be (at least in my books).

As this is a motherboard designed for some serious business, it is fundamental that it has a good UEFI BIOS to back it up as well. If you have a poor user experience within the BIOS, it’s unlikely that you’re going to enjoy setting it up, especially when those crashes are imminent and you need to tinker in the BIOS every other boot up.

Now, it should be noted that we do have an exceptionally good i7-4770K, but that isn’t everything in the overclocking world. You need a great motherboard to make a CPU bring out its full potential, and that’s exactly what happened when we paired our CPU with this overclocking orientated motherboard from MSI. The CPU-Z screenshots speak for themselves. We managed to get into Windows at 5.2 GHz (wow, right?) on 1.4 volts and 5.3 GHz on 1.5 volts. While these are clearly not values you should be using on your CPU, we did it to prove a point and to show what the motherboard was capable of.

XPOWER 5.3GHz

These are the highest frequencies we’ve been able to get out of the CPU, period. While it isn’t going to be anywhere near usable, it does demonstrate that the motherboard is able to push CPUs far beyond what other alternatives may be capable of. The previous best we had seen stopped around the 5 GHz marker, which can be attributed to a number of things including better, cleaner and more stable power delivery to the CPU, as well as a better design throughout the entirety of the board. It is proclaimed that the extra layers within the PCB structure add stability as well. The PCB consists of 50% more layers compared to other motherboards (presumably MSI boards, I am not sure on other brands) in the family.

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