Z77 OC Motherboard Shootout - MSI vs ASRock

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We’ve seen more than our share of motherboards sporting the Z77 chipset, but today we have a pair of Z77 boards--one each from ASRock and MSI--that are designed specifically for overclocking. Even better, both of these mainboards are actually mid-range offerings, meaning you can enjoy the overclocking features without paying for the highest-end options from the two companies. What better way to put them through the paces than by setting up a good old-fashioned mainboard shootout?

Because Z77 was made to be paired up with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors, we slapped a quad-core Intel Core i7-3770K in these two contenders and let the fur fly.

But first, let’s take a look at the ASRock Z77 OC Formula and MSI Big Bang Z77 MPOWER.  As motherboards go, the ASRock Z77 OC Formula’s a beaut, featuring a black PCB, black and yellow slots and connectors, gold caps, and a brushed black metal finish on the heatsinks.

In terms of physical buttons, switches, and other miscellany located on the PCB, the power and reset buttons reside down by the Southbridge; a V-Probe is up and to the right of the DIMM slots, just under Rapid OC +/- buttons; and just above those is a Dr. Debug LED and PCIe on/off switches; and there’s a Clear CMOS button on the rear I/O panel.

The board supports both 2nd- and 3rd-generation Intel Core i7, i5, and i3 chips and can handle up to 32GB of DDR3-3000 (OC) system memory.

ASRock Z77 OC Formula
Specifications & Features









USB 3.0:

Form Factor:
Supports 3rd and 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 in LGA1155 Package
12 + 4 Power Phase Design
Supports Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
Supports Intel K-Series unlocked CPU
Supports Hyper-Threading Technology
Intel Z77

Dual Channel DDR3 memory technology
4 x DDR3 DIMM slots
Supports DDR3 3000+(OC)/2800(OC)/2666(OC)/2400(OC)/2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Max. capacity of system memory: 32GB*
Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3 / 1.2

Supports Intel HD Graphics Built-in Visuals, Quick Sync Video 2.0, InTru 3D, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider, HD Graphics 2500/4000 with Intel Ivy Bridge CPU
Supports Intel HD Graphics Built-in Visuals, Quick Sync Video, InTru 3D, Clear Video HD Technology, HD Graphics 2000/3000, Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) with Intel Sandy Bridge CPU
Pixel Shader 5.0, DirectX 11 with Intel Ivy Bridge CPU. Pixel Shader 4.1, DirectX 10.1 with Intel Sandy Bridge CPU - Max. shared memory 1760MB with Intel Ivy Bridge CPU.

7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec)
Premium Blu-ray audio support, Supports THX TruStudio

PCIE x1 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
Broadcom BCM57781
Supports Wake-On-LAN, Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az, PXE

2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (PCIE2/PCIE4: single at x16 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4) or dual at x8/x8 mode)
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (PCIE5: x4 mode)
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX, 3-Way CrossFireX and CrossFireX
Supports NVIDIA Quad SLI and SLI

2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Intel® Z77, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel® Rapid Storage and Intel® Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s connectors by Marvell SE9172, support RAID (RAID 0 and RAID 1), NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions

2 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by Intel Z77, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
4 x Rear USB 3.0 ports by Etron EJ188H, support USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s
1 x Front USB 3.0 header by Intel Z77 (supports 2 USB 3.0 ports), supports USB 1.0/2.0/3.0 up to 5Gb/s

EATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 10.5-in, 30.5 cm x 26.7 cm 

Four-way SLI and CrossFireX support is enabled by the five PCI-E slots--two PCI-E 3.0 x16, one PCI-E 2.0 x16, and two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots--and there are six total SATA connectors on board, all of which are SATA 6Gbps. As far as USB goes, ASRock put in four USB 2.0 ports and went with USB 3.0 ports for the remaining seven; one is mounted on a front panel, and there are ten total on the back I/O panel.


The rest of the back panel includes a PS/2 port, HDMI, optical S/PDIF, LAN port, CMOS button, and audio jacks.

To enhance overclocking prowess, ASRock built the Z77 OC Formula with a 12+4 power phase design, Digi Power PWM for better CPU voltage handling, dual-stack MOSFETs, and premium alloy choke. The CPU socket and memory slots feature 15μ Gold Finger for better performance, and ASRock’s twin-power cooling is designed so that users can combine air and water cooling for better heat flow and transfer.


There are even little “OC stands” that keep the motherboard up off the surface you're using it on for better airflow if you don’t feel like building the system with a chassis, and ASRock threw in a syringe full of GELID GC-Extreme thermal compound, too.

Of course, there’s plenty of OC software provided so you can tweak the board and components in a variety of ways in addition to the old-fashioned method of adjusting settings in the UEFI BIOS, which includes a pre-loaded OC profile from Nick Shih. Formula Drive is the main piece of software, and it enables users to view and alter settings for hardware monitoring, fan controls, PCI-E on/off controls, fine voltage controls, thermal sensors, and more.


Other software ASRock threw in includes ASRock OMG (Online Management Guard), Internet Flash to look for firmware updates from the UEFI BIOS, the MAGIX Multimedia Suite, APP Charger, Lucid Virtu, and ASRock XFast USB/RAM/LAN.

It’s always interesting to see what mainboard manufacturers will include in the box, and ASRock did not disappoint.  In addition to the accessories mentioned above, there’s a black velvet sack with a tie cord--and only good things can come from such a satchel--which contains a user manual, software setup guide, software and utilities disc, I/O shield, screws, a front USB 3.0 panel, a rear USB 3.0 bracket, an SLI bridge card, a handful of SATA cables, and a pair of 1-to-1 SATA power cables.

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realneil 2 years ago

Both of these are nice boards.

I have been buying mostly ASRock boards for the past year and none of them have disappointed me.

Dave_HH 2 years ago

You buy a lot of motherboards, Neil? What do you do with all those boards? :)

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="Dave_HH"]

You buy a lot of motherboards, Neil? What do you do with all those boards? :)


I build systems for others as a sideline to help pay for my disgusting computer habit. It's not a lot of PCs.

Four of the PCs here at the house have ASRock boards. (two Z68, one 990FX, and one N68 board)

One is an ASUS socket FM-1 board.



Peter is right, I have built two raffle PCs for a local battered woman's shelter so far, with another one coming up in early 2013. Both machines brought around 700 bucks each to the shelter. I donated as much as I could and some friends donated parts to help me finish them off.

My wife is a pastor and a crisis counselor now and works at that shelter counseling ladies and their children.

There is a large community outreach here with many organizations helping these people. It's very cool.

[quote user="rrplay"]BTW Happy Belated Birthday Neil[/quote]

Not until the 29th of this month,....but thank you Peter.


rrplay 2 years ago

[quote user="realneil"] Not until the 29th of this month,....but thank you Peter.[/quote]

Good thing I mentioned it , & good to know as the selective CRS ever looms on the horizon..still like the MSI board a bit better and the price is good too ,,

btw @eunoia and gang ...Micro Center has the i5 3570K at $169  in store only todayhttp://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?sku_list=425470+425405+866350

realneil 2 years ago

[quote user="rrplay"]as the selective CRS ever looms on the horizon[/quote]

Yeah, it's a part of life at this point,.................Smile

rrplay 2 years ago

[quote user="realneil"] [quote user="rrplay"]as the selective CRS ever looms on the horizon[/quote]

Yeah, it's a part of life at this point,.................Smile


yeah sorta proves a point that "Your'e Never to old to learn something stupid"........................Smile

meanwhile Let Build Us Some $1000 Dream Rigs like eunoia has posted 

eunoia 2 years ago


rrplay 2 years ago

Thanks for the shootout, either one would be AOK for me and in some ways I like the MSI board a bit better.

*** just wanted to pop in here >>yeah Dave I remember talking to Neil a while back and he has been having some postive results with his ASRock boards, mentioned some thing about building some rigs for raffles or local communities or something like that.. BTW Happy Belated Birthday Neil

eunoia 2 years ago


Chinese hu 2 years ago

I'm Chinese Hello, may I make friends with you?

burddawg70 2 years ago

Great shootout, I was pumped up to read this as I just picked up the MSI board and the i7-3770K for $467 at frys.com over the past weekend. Now to complete the build. It's been a long time since I built my own system, anyone have any recommended sites to review proper OC settings? Thanks!!

burddawg70 2 years ago

Forgot to add that also has a $40 rebate. Here is the link: http://www.frys.com/product/7411335?site=sa:adpages page:P6_SUN date:112512

AndrewElliott one year ago

Now I'm feeling the urge to upgrade...

warsoul one year ago

No thunderbolt plugs ? In 2013 ? For OC users ? Seems strange for me.

Johnny3D one year ago

On a purely aesthetic basis, I like the ASRock better. I do think I would lean more toward the MSI for a purchase mostly because of the Military Class III components. I also like that each of the motherboards have been tested and certified. All in all, they both seem like excellent motherboards.

realneil one year ago

Both boards have turned out to be popular with consumers.

I'd like to own either one of them.

Clixxer one year ago

Pretty nice either one of them. I know MSI is doing their whole gaming series z77 MBs now it would be nice to see how they stack up.

OSunday one year ago

I cringe whenever I see Asrock... they're prices are so competitive and I went for it with my first build (890FX) but it had issues with drivers that were just corrupted with no solutions that caused incessant BSOD's.  I eventually just had to go without a couple drivers, and I'm not sure if it's related to this as well but it would do strange things involving booting such as not booting when devices where in certain USB ports and only booting when a device was in another USB port.
I don't think I'll be buying anything from the again and I suggest others do the same

Clixxer one year ago

I've never bought ASRock boards but the few people I know that have didnt have really an issues. Drivers were something a couple of them had issues with but either found a workaround or ASRock got out an update. 

Before I bought my current asus sabertooth board I almost bought one but found mine new for $120 bucks and couldn't pass it up.

realneil one year ago

[quote user="OSunday"]I cringe whenever I see Asrock... [/quote]

And it's just the opposite for me. I have four ASRock motherboards (two Z68, one 990FX and one N68) and one ASUS FM1 board too. I have no issues with any of them. Loading all of the latest drivers from the websites help to make this so.

I recommend the ASRock brand.

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