The Z77 MPower is a standard sized ATX board, capable of fitting any mid-tower case. The completely black layout with white text and silver capacitors looks alright, but the Twin Frozr IV based design of the heatsinks (as seen on the N680GTX Lightning) with the dark silver metal and bright yellow outlines is what makes the overall design of the MPower stand out from the crowd.
In the CPU area you can the 16-phase power design, complemented by the large heatsinks, all of which are connected by a fat heatpipe for easy heat dissipation. There’s more than enough space for large CPU coolers, but you may not be able to put in memory kits with large heatsinks as the DIMM slots start immediately where the CPU cooler area finishes. Speaking of which, the 4x DIMM slots support up to DDR3-3000MHz (O/C) memory with an Ivy Bridge processor.
Coming down we see three PCIe x16 Gen 3.0 slots (16/8/8) and four PCIe x1 Gen 2.0 slots for adequate expansion. Sadly there are only two SATA III ports, while the other four are SATA II ports.
Coming back to the rear I/O panel, we see 6x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, a P/S2 port, HDMI, DisplayPort, LAN, SPDIF and 8-channel audio. You’ll notice a Bluetooth (3.0) and WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) module, but no Thunderbolt port.
For testing the MSI Z77 MPower, the following setup was used:
The MSI Z77 MPower is expected be in between the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4TH and the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe in pricing, hence these two are used for comparison.
While clicking the OC Genie II button on the motherboard gave an automatic overclock of 4.2GHz, changing the ratio multiplier for the CPU to 46 and increasing voltage to 1.45v was easy in the UEFI BIOS. This lead to an easy overclock of 4.6GHz and from there on it was smooth sailing as you can see from the benchmarks.