Trio of Z87 OC Motherboards Tested

Motherboards/Intel S1150 by leeghoofd @ 2013-07-26

Today we will be looking at 3 high end Overclock optimized mainboards for Intel's 4th generation processors. Madshrimps received the Z87-OC Formula sample from ASRock, the Gigabyte Z87X-OC and MSI's Z87 XPOWER flagship. Three boards, although all listed in total different price categories, targeted specifically at the enthusiast crowd. Fully equipped to squeeze the last MHz out of your Haswell. Due to the specific nature of these particular boards we have adapted the review method slightly to go more into the efficiency aspect instead of listing all of the onboard features/chips.

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The ASRock Z87 OC Formula is a stunning performing motherboard. Designed by one of the Worlds Fastest Overclockers Nick Shih. They again delivered the goods as with Z77. For those that still confuse ASRock with cheap components and low durability, this board proves them all wrong.



The Z87 OC Formula is a marvel to work with. From the three, the ASRock has got the best and most flexible Bios onboard. No unexpected features not working, everything is properly dialed in, since Bios F1.51A.  Benchers will adore the flexibility this board shows with all the different RAMs you can throw at it. Even though not all RAM profiles work 100% when loaded, they provide a great starting point in your tweaking adventure. The non-conformal coating also is a great feature to have onboard for your future LN2 experiences.  The 285 euro price might initially seem high, but once you get the feel for the board it all seems justified. The Performance award is highly deserved !


  • Intuitive tuned bios
  • Non conformal coating
  • Ocing software
  • RAM compatibility
  • CPU/RAM air/LN2 optimised profiles
  • 5 year warranty


  • No clue, maybe the price ?




The Gigabyte Z87X-OC is the cheapest offering in our Trio. However the Z87X-OC is one of the stronger competitors in the Madshrimps Test Suite. Excelling in the stock test suite, due to the aggressive Turbo Boost approach. The air overclocking tests show that the Z87X-OC has got great efficiency in the 2D and the 3D benchmarks. Gigabyte is not intending to make the same mistake twice and launched this board straight from day one. A multitude of Bios updates, fixed many of the initial child diseases. On top of that, the continuous follow up from Dino & HiCookie reflect in great LN2 optimized biosses ( B & X versions ).



This Z87X-OC board is Gigabyte's most user friendly board ever and this clearly shows in the memory compatibility tests. At the price of 185 euros you can't go wrong with the Gigabyte Z87X-OC. It's a steal and a marvelous performer, being it for daily usage or extreme overclocking. Therefore Madshrimps awards the Gigabyte Z87X-OC, both the Value and Performance Award.



  • aggressive out of the box performance
  • RAM compatibility
  • RAM profiles
  • LN2 optimised biosses
  • VGA support brace
  • OCing software
  • price/performance ratio


  • incorrect RAM timing displayed in bios (non XMP)








The MSI XPOWER is a mixed bag to be honest. Sporting great features and great out of the box performance. However once we start to push harder on the RAMs it all goes downhill. High speed Memory compatibility was mediocre before the release of Bios 1.18. With the latest official bios (1.19) most XMP profiles work, but the efficiency is just not there. More Bios tinkering has to be done to get the XPOWER up to scratch. Especially due to the high price of  340 euros it goes head to head with the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme board and it will get owned in every aspect.



Sadly this board is the ideal example of how a great feature packed board can become a limping dog due to an unoptimized Bios or very strange engineering decisions. Let's hope MSI can get their act together and keeps on updating the Bioses to retrieve the lost efficiency and compatibility  (looking good in A11 bios). This feels like an MSI X58 revival, We will keep on updating the review if something drastically changes. At the moment of writing, if you are an overclocker, it might be a better option to stay clear off, till things clear up for,  the Z87 XPOWER.



  • stunning looks
  • agressive out of the box performance
  • quad SLI support


  • RAM Compatibility
  • no RAM profiles
  • extremely limited Bclocking at 1.00 ratio
  • efficiency at high RAM speeds with 1.19
  • overpriced due to unnecessary features




EDITOR RANT: This article is not meant to put a certain brand in a bad daylight. However the numerous reviews on the Z87 XPOWER I read, are lacking credibility. Impossible that they properly tested or analysed the board.  Probably some 2 hour testing done by an automated system, pushing out results straight into an Excel file.  Good job ! NOT !

If you want to buy a board based on looks and onboard gimmicks then you find more then what you are looking for on the multiple photo, hardware spec listing review sites out there. However at Madshrimps we publish also the not so pretty facts, not some bla bla wrapped in a nice shell. This particular board is designed for OverClocking, yet fails to live up to that label. Hence why articles as these should thrive the Bios engineers to get things sorted ASAP. If one has to pay 340 euros for a semi working motherboard, how miserable would you feel if you found out the truth, that brand B was cheaper, faster and more user friendly.

My main concern is not with the board as it's clearly evolving in the right direction, but the BS reviews which are posted on a regular basis. Lately all hardware is Good, a Must Buy, Great or Recommended.  Get a life dear collegue reviewers and dare to be honest with your readers. That is where your focus should be really at !

Your job is not to please the manufacturers, but to inform your readers !

Leeghoofd aka the wining guy logging out... time to explore the ASUS ROG Z87 Formula...




Thanks to Nick from ASROCK for the Z87-OC Formula sample



Thanks to Bernice from Gigabyte NL for the Z87X-OC board


Thanks to Manny and Leon from MSI for the XPOWER board and support, let's keep on working on the board !



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Comment from Teemto @ 2013/07/26
Really like the editor's note
Comment from NordWolfe @ 2013/08/03
Finally somebody with the balls to tell it like it is. Now I would just like somebody to call-out Intel, for their woeful/unacceptable manufacturing quality control on their CPUs, and AMD, for their incompetence that permits these abuses from their rivals. At least, so it seems, AMD is now hiring the right people for their CPU division. Hope this pays off quickly so that Intel loses it’s arrogance, and total lack of respect for it’s customers. For that to happen we need many more true reviewers, such as yourself, and not Corporate Whores, such as we see in most sites, and youtube channels.
I salute your courage, integrity, and the knowledge you have on your mission.
Comment from leeghoofd @ 2013/08/04
Thx guys for the feedback. It's not what the manufacturers or people from the PR team want to read, but at least it's the truth based on hard facts... apreciated that my hard works is applauded