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MSI Z97 XPower Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Bundled Applications

Included Applications

  • Command Center
  • Super Charger
  • Live Update 6
  • Smart Utilities
  • ECO Center
  • XSplit Gamecaster
  • Fast Boot
  • Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
  • Norton Internet Security Solution
  • Sound Blaster Cinema 2
  • Google Chrome Browser
  • 7-ZIP

The Command Center is a centralize utility for board settings configuration and tuning, similar in nature to the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. The Super Charger applet allows the user to fast-charge USB devices from the board's USB ports. The Sound Blaster Cinema 2 is used to configure the on-board audio subsystem. Live Update 6 give the user a Windows-based interface for BIOS backup and update. The Smart Utilities combines the Intel Rapid Start Technology, Smart Response Technology, and Smart Connect Technology utilities into a single user interface for easy user configuration of the Intel-related board functionality. The ECO Center applet houses settings for controlling board component power usage. The Xsplit Gamecaster utility can be used to create in-game recordings and live streams.

MSI Command Center

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The MSI Command Center application serves as a centralized utility for Windows-based performance configuration and tuning. Included in the interface are settings mirroring those available in the BIOS for the CPU, DRAM and GPU, as well as the ability to set up a dedicated RAM disk using the MSI RAMDisk functionality. MSI even includes a page explaining OC Genie and how to activate the automated overclocking engine.

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CPU section, Manual mode CPU fan and voltage settings

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DRAM and IGP settings

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RAMDisk settings

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OC Genie settings

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Advanced section pop-ups

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Settings section pop-ups

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Information section pop-ups

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Command Center in minimized UI mode

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

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The MSI branded Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is an application providing board and subsystem level information about the CPU and memory speeds, allowing for both automated and manual based overclocking of the board. Additionally, multiple stress tests are integrated into the application for settings testing as well as area to save and retrieve settings profiles.

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Manual Tuning section, Core settings page

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Manual Tuning section, Graphics and Memory settings page

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Stress Test page

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Profiles page

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Intel Extreme Tuning Utility in minimized UI mode

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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