MSI Z87 XPower £350

8th Oct 2013 | 08:30

MSI Z87 XPower

Top of the line motherboard for those serious about overclocking

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

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

Dislike:

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.

motherboards Z87 motherboards Haswell MSI TRBC awardrecommended
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