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MSI Z97 XPower Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

The MSI Z97 XPower motherboard is the flagship board in their Overclocking Series line of motherboards, optimized over the previous version XPower board to take advantage of the Intel Z97 Express chipset and Intel 5th generation Core processors. The design and the layout of the board remain reminiscent of that from the Z87 XPower with several components shifted to other locations to open up space and other switched out to be replaced by updated technologies. The most obvious changes to the board are the inclusion of integrated water barbs in the CPU VRM sink and the reduction of the integrated CPU power phases to 16 (from 32-power phases on the previous generation board). The board's color scheme is less diverse as well, with all integrated components colored to match the black and yellow theme. At a base MSRP of $399.99, the Z97 XPower carries a premium price to match its premium feature set.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

The Z97 XPower motherboard was designed with 16 digital power phases for powering the CPU. The board alos comes standard with MSI's Military Class 4 digital components to maximize the board's performance potential, including Hi-C and Dark capacitors with super ferrite chokes and DrMOS MOSFET chips. To aid in cooling the CPU power circuitry and integrated PLX, MSI included a hybrid cooling solution into the sinks surrounding the CPU socket. The heat sinks can use traditional air cooling, or be hooked into an existing water loop using the provided 3/8" barbs.MSI integrated in the following components into the Z97 XPower's design: 10 SATA 3 ports; one M.2 10 Gb/s ports; an Intel I218-V GigE NIC; an Intel 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth adapter; five PCI-Express x16 slots for up to quad-card NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire support; two PCI-Express x1 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, cpu ratio control, base clock control, OC Genie, power discharge, and Go2BIOS buttons; Slow Mode boot,OC Genie mode, DirectOC mode, Multi-BIOS, and PCIe control switches; Realtek audio solution with isolated audio PCB and Nippon Chemi-con audio capacitors; dedicated per-channel headphone OP-AMPs; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points; hybrid VRM cooling solution; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z97 XPower motherboard!

Technical Specifications (taken from the MSI website)

CPU • Supports 5th and 4th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors, and Intel® Pentium® and Celeron® Processors for the Socket LGA1150
Please refer to CPU Support for compatible CPU; the above description is for reference only.
Chipset • Intel® Z97 Express Chipset
Main Memory • Support four DDR3 DIMMs 1066 / 1333 / 1600 / 1866* / 2000* / 2133* / 2200* / 2400* / 2600* / 2666* / 2800* / 3000* / 3100* / 3200* / 3300* (OC) DRAM (32GB Max)
- Supports Dual-Channel mode
- Supports non-ECC, un-buffered memory
- Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Slots • 5 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (PCI_E1, PCI_E2, PCI_E3, PCI_E5, PCI_E7)*
- The operating mode will be x0 / x16 / x0 / x0 / x0, x16 / x0 / x0 / x16 / x0, x16 / x0 / x0 / x8 / x8 or x8 / x0 / x8 / x8 / x8.*
- Support for installing up to 4 PCIe x16 expansion cards.
• 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
* For a single expansion card installation with optimum performance, using the PCI_E2 slot is recommended.
On-Board SATA • Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA1~6)
- 1 x M.2 port*
- M.2 port supports M.2 SATA 6Gb/s module
- M.2 port supports M.2 PCIe module up to 10Gb/s speed**
- M.2 port supports 4.2cm/ 6cm/ 8cm length module
- Supports RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10***
- Supports Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Intel Smart Connect Technology****

• ASMedia® ASM1061 chipset
- 4 x SATA 6Gb/s ports (SATA7~10)
* The SATA5 and SATA6 ports will be unavailable when installing a module in the M.2 port.
** M.2 PCIe interface only supports UEFI option ROM, NOT support legacy option ROM.
*** M.2 PCIe interface does not support RAID 0, RAID1, RAID 5 and RAID 10.
**** Supports Intel Core processors on Windows 7 and Windows 8/ 8.1

USB • Intel Z97 Express Chipset
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports available through the internal USB connectors
- 6 x USB 2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB connectors*)

• ASMedia ASM1074 Chipset
- 6 x USB 3.0 ports on the back panel

• ASMedia ASM1042 Chipset
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports on the back panel
* internal JUSB1 connector supports MSI Super Charger

Audio • Realtek® ALC1150 Codec
- 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
- Supports S/PDIF output
LAN • 1 x Intel I218-V Gigabit LAN controller
Wireless LAN • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth expansion module with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 chip.
- Supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz) up to 867 Mbps speed.
- Supports Intel Wireless Display (WiDi)
Bluetooth • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth expansion module with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 chip.
- Supports Bluetooth v4.0 (includes BLE* and Bluetooth 3.0+HS)
Multi-GPU • Supports 4-Way AMD® CrossFire™ Technology*
• Supports 4-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
*Supports Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1.
Internal I/O Connectors - 1 x 24-pin ATX power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 1 x 6-pin ATX 12V power connector*
- 5 x 4-pin System fan connectors
- 2 x 4-pin CPU fan connectors
- 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 2 x USB 2.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports)
- 2 x USB 3.0 connectors (supports additional 4 USB 3.0 ports)
- 1 x Front Panel Audio connector
- 2 x System panel connectors
- 1 x TPM module connector
- 1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
- 9 x V-Check points connectors
- 1 x GO2BIOS button
- 1 x OC Genie button
- 1 x Discharge button
- 1 x Reset button
- 1 x Power button
- 2 x Base Clock control buttons
- 2 x CPU Ratio control buttons
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Multi-BIOS switch
- 1 x OC Genie mode switch
- 1 x PCIe CeaseFire Switch
- 1 x Slow mode switch
- 1 x Base Clock step swtich
- 1 x PCIe CeaseFire switch
- 1 x 2-Digit Debug Code LED
- 1 x Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth module connector
* Provides additional power to PCIe x16 slots
Back Panel I/O Ports - 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port
- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF-out port
- 2 x USB 2.0 ports
- 8 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x RJ45 LAN jack
- 1 x 6 in 1 OFC audio jack
- 1 x DisplayPort with max. resolution up to 4096x2304@24Hz, 2560x1600@60Hz, 3840x2160@60Hz,1920x1200@60Hz
- 1 x HDMI ports with max. resolution up to 4096x2304@24Hz, 2560x1600@60Hz, 3840x2160@60Hz,1920x1200@60Hz

This platform supports dual-display and triple-display function

  HDMI + DisplayPort HDMI + DisplayPort HDMI +
HDMI + DisplayPort
Extend mode
(Extend the desktop to the second and third monitor)
Clone mode
(Monitors have the same screen)
BIOS • The motherboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The motherboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your motherboard specifications.
Dimension • 30.5cm(L) x 26.4cm(W) E-ATX Form Factor
Mounting • 9 mounting holes.

 

July 2, 2014 | 10:17 AM - Posted by Renegade87 (not verified)

I just bought this mobo (along with a 4790K Devils Canyon CPU) to replace my aging but still viable ASUS Maximus Formula LGA775 mobo/QX9650 3.0GHz Yorkfield setup. I'm expecting the delivery once I get home from work. Can't wait.

"The Egg Place" has this mobo for less $ than either price listed in this article.

Normally, I look to an ASUS product first, but this Z97 XPower board looks to keep me happy for the next 5 years +

July 2, 2014 | 10:26 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Its a nice board with some very interesting add-ons, should be a good upgrade for you.

Best of luck...

July 2, 2014 | 01:29 PM - Posted by MahoganySoapbox

I really enjoyed the Bios features review and the hardware pictures. A very good looking piece of gear. Please, let us know what results you see with further O.C. testing.

I also agree that the use of barbs instead of ports for the targeted customer was unusual. The addition of another NIC would be expected for that price point.

Thanks Morry!

July 4, 2014 | 03:56 PM - Posted by sirryche (not verified)

can the barbs unscrew and come out and replace with ports?

July 18, 2014 | 03:57 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

no, the barbs are fixed in place unfortunately...

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