Internal Storage

 IMG 3863 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 GamingIMG 3832 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

(8) on ASRock vs (6) SATA 6gb/s ports on MSI (one disabled if mSATA in use), ’nuff said.

IMG 4663 300x200 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

The ASRock Z87 Extreme4 also comes with two internal USB 3.0 headers (as opposed to one on MSI) and a nifty onboard USB3.0 connector.

 

Expansion slots

IMG 4674 300x200 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 GamingIMG 4669 300x200 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

MSI opted for a full seven slot PCIe layout, while ASRock used two of them for legacy PCI slots which can be useful for builders who have older sound cards and TV tuners. Both motherboards feature a similar graphics card slot retention lock, but ASRock’s version is much bigger and hence more convenient during expansion card removal.

 

Overclocking features

IMG 4665 300x200 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 GamingIMG 3836 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

MSI placed voltage check points near the ATX connector (puzzling since this board is definitely not suitable for competitive benchmarkers), but did not bother to include a PORT-80 diagnostic LED or onboard power/reset buttons, two things that the ASRock board has.

The Extreme4 also has dual BIOS flash ROM chips, which is useful in the event of a corrupt BIOS flash.

 

VRM (MOSFETs) – Information in this section is derived from sin0822’s VRM list.

IMG 3879 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming IMG 3849 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

MSI at 8-phases and ASRock at 12-phases (note: not an accurate measure of peak output or characteristics).

IMG 3886 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming IMG 3850 300x200 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

ASRock uses Intersil ISL9582 which a 6 phase Hybrid PWM doubled to 12, while MSI employs a basic uP1649 analog controller augmented by discrete doublers.

IMG 3883 300x199 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming IMG 4680 300x200 Head to head: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 vs MSI Z87 G45 Gaming

ASRock’s VRM implementation is more thorough and robust than MSI’s, which will come into play during heavy overclocking and long-term stability. Both implementations were cool to touch even under heavy CPU load, which makes them suitable for passive operation when water-cooling.