Legit Motherboard Reviews
MSI Big Bang XPOWER Intel X58 Motherboard Review
|Date:||Thu, Jun 10, 2010 - 12:00 AM|
|Written By:||Dan Stoltz -|
MSI Big Bang XPower, A Closer Look
Taking a first look at the MSI Big Bang Xpower there are a few things that stand out to me. The first was the six Gen2 PCIEx16 slots. The next feature that jumped out at me was the completely passive cooling on the MSI Big Bang XPower.
Starting out the tour of the MSI Big Bang XPower at the DIMM slots we can see that there is only one latch on them. I have mixed emotions about this. I have always liked to insert the memory DIMMs in straight and uniformly. The way these work you have to slide one end in first and then press the other end in and latch it. The DIMMs were secure, though it was a unique way to install them. On the left side of the image below the DIMM slots is the 24 pin power plug.
Moving to the next corner, the first feature to jump out is the heatsink that keeps the ICH10R chipset within safe operating temperatures. Immediately below the heatsink are the eight SATA ports, two of which (white) are the SATA 6Gbps ports.
Next to the SATA ports are the plugs for the included v-kit. This makes it much easier to check voltages rather than just relying on the bios and different software solutions. Being able to use plugs like those provided here is a nice feature over just having a contact point like on my EVGA X58 SLI board as you can slip with the test probe and fry your board. The blue 'V-Kit' bracket allows you to check five different voltages. You can check CPU, VTTD, DDR, IOH and ICH voltages. The sixth slot is the ground plug.
Rounding the corner we have the typical system fan and USB2 headers. There is also a debug LED display that displays the post codes. Next to the display is a set of switches; these switches will allow you to increase the voltage range of various components.
- Switch one is the CPU voltage
- Switch two is the QPI voltage
- Switch three is the DRAM voltage
- Switch four is IOH voltage
When I first pulled the MSI Big Bang XPower from the packaging and started to go over it, I thought that the power and reset buttons had been forgotten to be put on. I was wrong. Instead of an actual button, it is a touch pad. Personally I like the feel of actually pressing a button and knowing that it was pressed; these worked fine, though. Next to the reset button is the OC Genie. Enabling this will cause the button to light up, and the next time that you fire up the MSI Big Bang XPower it will automatically overclock your system. We will take a look and see how well it works later in the article. Next to the OC Genie is another set of "buttons", these will allow you to change the base clock of your system while it is up and running during normal operation. Next to the Base Clock adjustments is the pin out for a Trusted Platform Module and a Firewire bracket.
Directly above the USB 3.0 text is the NEC USB3.0 controller chip model D720200f1. Above the Dual GBE LAN text is a pair of REALTEK RTL8111DL chips. To the right of the REALTEK Gigabit controller chips is a VIA VT6315 1394 PCIE host controller. The six PCI-e x16 expansion slots have a number of different combinations that you can implement. The MSI Big Bang XPower will support six single slot graphics cards or you can run two-way, three-way or quad SLI or CrossfireX. If you run dual cards in either SLI or CrossfireX the first and fourth PCI-e expansion slots are used and they will both run at full X16 bandwidth. If you populate all six PCI-e expansion slots they will run at: x8, x4, x4, x8, x4, x4. Next to the six PCI-e x16 slots is a PCI-e x1 slot. The PCI-e x1 expansion slot is meant to be used in conjunction with the Quantum Wave sound card that is included with the MSI Big Bang XPower. There is also a six pin power plug next to the PCI-e x1 expansion slot. This will supply additional power to your graphics cards.
The I/O panel has the common features you would expect to find on most system boards today. There is a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, seven USB ports, two of which are USB3.0, two E-SATA ports (one of them is a combination of E-SATA and USB2.0), one firewire port and two PS/2 (one mouse and one keyboard). There is also a CMOS reset button and a plug for the MSI OC Dashboard. Though missing is the traditional on board audio connectors. MSI opted for a add in card instead.
The MSI Big Bang XPower features Quantum Wave audio processing, this combines the use of THX TruStudio PC with Creative EAX ADVANCED HD 5.0 which is said to deliver a level of gaming audio performance unheard of on previous motherboards. The MSI QuantumWave audio card features 7.1 Channel High Definition Audio via the 6+Coaxial SPDIF/Optical SPDIF ports on the QuantumWave audio card.
Upon closer examination of the area surrounding the LGA 1366 socket I noticed something missing. There isn't a single capacitor in the immediate vicinity of the socket. MSI is using a little bit different technology. Instead of the Solid Capacitors found on most boards, MSI is using a Hi-c Cap (highly conductive capacitor). The Hi-c Caps have a life expectancy eight times that of a Solid Capacitor, and have a higher thermal stability. The core of the Hi-c Capacitors features a Tantalum Core which is a rare and highly stable material. The MSI Big Bang XPower is designed for some serious overclocking potential with the processors that have some big time power requirements. To satisfy the power needs under some extreme overclocking, MSI designed the MSI Big Bang XPower to be able to take advantage of dual eight pin power adapters.
The Chokes that are just outside the Hi-c Caps are Super Ferrite Chokes (SFC). The SFC's use a Ferrite core that is Super-Permeable. This allows the Super Ferrite Chokes to run at a 35 degree Celsius lower temperature, have a 30% higher current capacity, a 20% improvement in power efficiency and better overclocking power stability.
The MSI Big Bang XPower has a few different sets of LED's scattered throughout the surface of the board similar to this one. This series of LED's shows what power phase the CPU is utilizing. There are LED's for the CPU, QPI, DDR, and the IOH power phases.
Next Page - MSI Big Bang XPower Bios
Page 1 - MSI Big Bang XPower Explodes Onto the Scene
Page 2 - MSI Big Bang XPower Box and Bundle
Page 3 - MSI Big Bang XPower, A Closer Look
Page 4 - MSI Big Bang XPower Bios
Page 5 - Legit Reviews Test System
Page 6 - PCMark Vantage
Page 7 - 3DMark Vantage
Page 8 - Super Pi
Page 9 - Cinebench R11.5
Page 10 - SiSoftware Sandra 2010
Page 11 - x264 HD Video Encoding
Page 12 - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Page 13 - Colin McRae: DiRT 2
Page 14 - Overclocking the MSI Big Bang XPower
Page 15 - System Power Consumption
Page 16 - Final Thoughts and Conclusion