As we know, Intel has an upcoming chipset release on the horizon and with this new lineup inevitably comes some new boards from their partners. You may have already seen the ASUS lineup that Lvcoyote posted and I am here to show you the board I have in hand… the MSI MPower MAX AC.
At this time the preview will really be at a very high level as the official release date is a bit into the future, but it should still be enough to get you thinking about making your next motherboard purchase based around Intel’s future chipset. On to the board!!!
The first picture is of the retail packaging for the MSI MPower MAX AC, and the second shot a picture of the included accessories. You will notice the included wireless, Bluetooth and, WIDI transmitter, among a slew of other things.
Anyone following MSI’s motherboards of late knows they have essentially categorized things by color… red for gaming and yellow for overclocking. Given that color scheme, we can guess that the MPower MAX AC carries that over to being an overclocking series of motherboard. In taking our first look, the heatsink around the CPU area looks like a pretty functional piece of metal, especially if you choose to use the integrated water cooling. It even provides for a lot of room around the socket area for larger heatsinks. The use of Hi-C caps (part of the Military Class 4 quality parts MSI uses on this level of board) around the socket allow for easier insulation for sub-ambient cooling needs. Some unique new features on the board are the USB3 Redrivers to aid with signal integrity on longer cable lengths as well as having double ESD protection on each I/O port.
On the overclocking side of things, this board comes with an “OC Engine” that helps with more flexible BCLK adjustments. Stepping adjustment settings of 100, 125 and 167 MHz give it a higher range as well as isolating on board GPU issues when pushing that limit. To help get you into windows on the brink of stability (the windows loading process can actually be pretty stressful), there is a DIP switch on the board to activate slow mode, which lowers the CPU ratio to 8x and decreases Vcore to get through the boot process. Once in windows, it can be disabled to restore your overclock settings. For the extreme overclocker, you will see a device called “CPU Clamp Down” that is specifically made for delidded CPUs, which is a nice value add.
MSI has its one button overclocking in the OC Genie 4 carrying over here, but this time with a bit of a kick to it in that it adds gearing via a DIP switch on the board. So basically, use gear one and reach 4 GHz on your CPU, and gear two for even higher overclocks.
Another feature we are seeing a lot more of is the very fast storage based on PCIe Gen 2 x2 interface with speeds up to 10 Gb/s using a M.2 form factor SSD. This slot rests between the bottom two PCIe slots. SATA-Express is also a PCIe Gen 2 x2 based storage. SATAe as I will call it, utilizes the M.2 slot and puts SATA ports on it able to utilize that 10 Gb/s throughput. The sad thing is the drivers that support this have been delayed, so do not expect to see your first glimpse of them until Q3 this year with better pricing to follow.
Here a closer look at the socket area and the cool “M” symbol on the heatsink. I see 12 total power phases poking out from underneath the heatsink too!
Although there are a lot more features to go over, especially on the software side of the house, that is something we just can’t divulge at this time. Performance is also something that we cannot show at this time either. All of that is going to have to wait for the full review, so please keep an eye on the front page for this and several other exciting items coming in the next few weeks!
Joe Shields (Earthdog)