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MSI Z87 XPower review

Top of the line motherboard for those serious about overclocking

Our Verdict

For

  • 32-phase power
  • LED debug
  • V-check points
  • Solid performance
  • PLX Chip
  • Low latency network card

Against

  • Very pricey
  • Most people do not need half the features offered

Can any motherboard really be worth this much money? That's easy: no it can't. But the MSI Z87 XPower is seriously hot stuff in performance terms and packed with all the features you could possibly imagine. As long as you don't need the money for anything else, the MSI Z87 won't give you any reason to regret your purchase.

For starters, this is a board designed with one eye on breaking overclocking world records. That means 32 phase power, so-called military class caps and chokes, LED debug, V-check points and a whole bunch of other features that it's possible you'll never use.

There's also an EMI-shielded audio circuit, complete with a snazzy yellow-backlit transparent tracer line on the board so you can actually spot the bit that's been isolated to ensure clean audio output. In fact, yellow is a theme of the MSI Z87, and as long as you like yellow, this is a good looking component.

Meanwhile, there's a PLX chip to enable silly numbers of Nvidia GPUs in parallel, a Killer E2205 network chip for low latency and, well, a bunch more stuff. As for performance, it's quick - very quick. The XPower tops nearly all our benchmarks and is unbeaten for overclocking, as you'd expect.

Benchmarks

In terms of quick and dirty overclocks, it doesn't actually give you much advantage over cheaper boards. If you're in the habit of pouring liquid nitrogen over your CPU, this is your weapon of choice. For just about everyone else, it's a nice board with a fairly ridiculous feature set you'd love to have if it weren't for that niggling price.

Multi-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 8.03
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 8.34
Asus Z87-Pro: 8.05
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 8.06
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 8.05
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 8.11
MSI Z87-G43: 8.5
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 8.48
MSI Z87 XPower: 8.5

Single-thread CPU performance
Cinebench 11.5: Index score: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 1.75
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 1.75
Asus Z87-Pro: 1.76
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 1.75
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 1.72
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 1.77
MSI Z87-G43: 1.72
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 1.71
MSI Z87 XPower: 1.72

Video encode performance
X264 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 45.5
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 46.3
Asus Z87-Pro: 45.6
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 45.5
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 45.5
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 45.7
MSI Z87-G43: 45.7
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 46.5
MSI Z87 XPower: 47.5

Memory bandwidth @ optimised defults
SiSoft Sandra: Gigabytes per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 17.38
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 17.24
Asus Z87-Pro: 17.47
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 17.25
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 17.45
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 17.56
MSI Z87-G43: 17.32
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 17.2
MSI Z87 XPower: 17.39

Gaming performance
Shogun: Total War 2: Frames per second: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 38.4
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 39.4
Asus Z87-Pro: 38.1
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 34.5
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 37.1
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 37.9
MSI Z87-G43: 44.6
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 38.9
MSI Z87 XPower: 39.5

Maximum overclock performance
4770K: Gigahertz: Higher is better

ASRock Z87 Extreme3: 4.7
Asus Sabertooth Z87: 4.7
Asus Z87-Pro: 4.7
Gigabyte Z87-D3HP: 4.0
Gigabyte Z87 G1.Sniper M5: 4.7
Intel DZ87KLT-75K: 4.5
MSI Z87-G43: 4.6
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming: 4.6
MSI Z87 XPower: 4.7

Verdict

The MSI Z87 is not a budget option, but if it's within your budget and you want all the options it offers, you're unlikely to experience buyer's remorse. That said, its out-of-the-box settings don't make for a huge advantage over cheaper rivals: this is a motherboard that will reward your expertise, not just your spending power.

The only issue is that, if you've got the spending power, you could well be better off building something based on Intel's LGA2011 platform. Which in the end makes the XPower's existence a rather tricky one to truly justify, even if you can stomach the price.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ87 Express
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFire, SLI, Virtu MVP
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots5
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H3 LGA-1150
Brand NameMSI
Form FactorXL-ATX
Processor SupportedCore i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory64 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Audio Channels7.1
BluetoothYes
Gigabit EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Number of SATA Interfaces10
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots7
HDMIYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
DisplayPortYes
Total Number of USB Ports10
Number of USB 3.0 Ports8
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports8
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports4
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0, PCI Express 3.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots7
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Number of mSATA Interfaces1
Width345 mm
Depth264 mm
ManufacturerMicro-Star International Co., Ltd
Product ModelZ87 XPOWER
Product NameZ87 XPOWER Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/600
Manufacturer Part NumberZ87 XPOWER
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.msicomputer.com
Marketing InformationZ87 XPOWER MOTHERBOARD


Why MSI OVERCLOCKING MOTHERBOARDS

The MSI OVERCLOCKING motherboards are designed based on four principles:
  • Professional overclockers feedback must be integrated
  • Continue MSI's leading position in power efficiency and stability
  • Only use essential OC tools
  • Infuse the DNA of MSI's Lightning graphics cards
OC CERTIFIED

OC Certified is a military burn-in test for motherboards. Running Prime95 for over 24 hours with a highly overclocked CPU is already a stressing endeavor, but removing all airflow from the motherboard ensures that only the best motherboards survive. If an XPOWER can survive this, it can survive any overclocking situation. The MSI Z87 XPOWER motherboards are equipped with all the necessary features to make sure you get the most out of your system. From the Enhanced PWM and Thermal Design that give you the best stability to all the easy features that ensure that you don't have to perform a lot of tricks to get great stability in your quest for performance.