MSI's latest Z97 XPOWER AC is packed with features from top to tow. The MSI engineer team didn't take any shortcuts here and tried to make sure this board is build to last. Being able to withstand your daily overclock adventures without breaking a sweat. Besides utilizing Military Class components all-round, the design team also did a stunning job on the box design and the installed oversized heat sinks.
No one can disagree that this is really a very sleek looking motherboard, while ASUS and eVGA are loyal to the black and red theme, Gigabyte remains black and orange orientated and MSI opted to pick black and yellow. The major differences between the different Z97 MSI OC versions are the following:
- E-ATX PCB format for the XPOWER AC versus ATX for the MPOWERs
- 16 Phase DigitALL Power design versus 12 Phases for the MPOWERs
- Delid Die Guard for delidded CPUs included only with the XPOWER
- XPOWER AC and MPOWER MAX AC include liquid cooled heat sinks, MPOWER doesn't
- XPOWER AC features a PLX chipset, thus supporting up to 4-Way SLI GPU setups
- XPOWER AC and MPOWER AC feature Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel® Wireless display
- XPOWER AC features 10 SATAIII ports versus 8 for the MPOWERs
All MSI Z97 OC targeted boards feature the Intel Z97 chipset supporting up to 32GB and memory overclocking up to 3300MHz. After removing the enhanced Thermal Design & Water Cooling Heat sink we get a clear overview on the power delivery setup for this XPOWER motherboard. MSI labels the Super Ferrite Chokes, Dark CAPs, HI-C CAPs and the DRMOS Mosfets as Military Class 4 components. Better Voltage stability, more power efficient, higher reliability, what else can an OCer demand ?
Maybe drop the liquid cooled heat sinks to lower the retail price? Even under the harshest conditions these get barely warm, let alone requiring the necessity of water cooling for safer operating temperatures. Secondly the choice to opt for this liquid cooling design means that the PLX chipset heat sink, which is the hottest out of the three, can't transfer the heat towards the other two oversized heat sinks, since this is not a real heat pipe design, though I can imagine how hard it is to convince the PR guys to drop this specific gimmick from a flagship motherboard. The XPower logo on the main PWM heat sink and the MSI logo on the PCH sink glow up once the board is fired up, a nice touch for the case modders there.
Another sign this board is designed from the ground up to be a rock stable extreme OCing motherboard are the 8+4 pin 12V ATX power. Secondly the 6 pin power PEG, located above the first X16 PCIe slot, allows more stable power delivery when running multi GPU solutions.