MSI Big Bang XPower II Motherboard Review

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MSI Big Bang XPower II

MSI Big Bang XPower II Intel X79 Motherboard Review

Micro Star International, more commonly known as MSI has been building quality computer components for more than 25 years. In that time MSI has really expanded it’s product line and built a quality name for itself. When you hear the MSI name today, you can be sure that it is a quality product that is built to last. MSI strives to hold to their core values ‘Innovation’ and ‘Style’. When looking at the todays sample, the MSI Big Bang XPower II definitely has a certain ‘Style’ to it. The Big Bang XPower II features the styling and theme of military grade weapons. This style fits with the Military Grade components that the Big Bang XPower II is comprised of. Browsing through various forums and reading what people have to say about the MSI Big Bang XPower II weapon styling, it seems that most either love it or hate it. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. Love it or hate it, it will definitely stand out from the crowd. As a matter of personal taste, it doesn’t matter what the motherboard looks like as long as it has the performance to back it up. The MSI Big Bang XPower II certainly isn’t aimed at those with a timid heart, or budget. The front of the packaging boasts for XTREME only and is currently priced at $389.99 but is currently out of stock. Good news is that Newegg.com has a limited edition version of the MSI Big Bang XPower II that retails for $999.99.

Curious about the MSI Big Bang XPower II Limited edition and why it retails for a thousand bucks we shot an email over to MSI to find out some details. Not only will you get the MSI Big Bang XPower II, but you will also be picking up a MSI Radeon HD 7970 and a copy of Battlefield 3! If you’re in the market for all of those it’s not a bad deal. Today though we will be focusing on the standard edition MSI Big Bang XPower II. I mentioned above that as long as the board has the performance to back up the look it presents, it doesn’t matter what it looks like to me. At first glance the MSI Big Bang XPower II looks like it will have the muscle to back up the look. Now this is simply on paper at this point and we will get to the performance numbers soon enough to see what it is capable of!

The above video from MSI talks about some of the features that are offered by the MSI Big Bang XPower II. Mostly it emphasizes the overclocking features of the board, after all the MSI Big Bang XPower II is designed for the ‘Xtreme’ user. If the MSI Big Bang XPower II is designed to stand up to the rigors of extreme cooling with liquid nitrogen, imagine how well it will hold up under much less extreme uses.

MSI Big Bang XPower II Military Class Components

Like many of the MSI motherboards the Big Bang XPower II takes advantage of the Military Class III components. The Military Class III components are comprised of DrMOS II, Hi-C Caps, Super Ferrite Chokes, and Solid Capacitors. Each of the four parts of the Military Class III technology play a vital role in the capabilities of the MSI Big Bang XPower II. The DrMOS II is comprised of three components on one chip. The Driver IC, top MOSFET, and the Bottom MOSFET were originally combined in the original DrMOS by MSI a few years ago. Today nearly all motherboard manufacturers have switched over to their own variant of this design. Stepping up to DrMOS II, MSI has raised the bar even further. The have added active protection for your motherboard. The MSI DrMOS II has added the ability to monitor and prevent damage from pushing the system to far by adding in double thermal protection. The double thermal protection first informs the user if the operation temperature hits 115 degrees Celsius, at 130C the system automatically shuts down. The Hi-C capacitors (Highly-Conductive polymerized capacitor) offer a high themal stability, ultra low ESR, and no mechanical issues. Another great advantage to the Hi-C capacitors is the life span. The Hi-C capacitors have a life span of up to 8 times that of the more traditional solid capacitors still found on many boards today. The SFC or Super Ferrite Chokes offer 10% higher power efficiency, stability and better overclocking. The solid capacitors that are used on the MSI Big Bang XPower II offer a life span of more than 10 years under a full load. All of the Military Class III components have passed the testing to be certified by the MIL-STD-810G standard.

Power delivery to the CPU is always a key point when looking at motherboards designed for extreme use. The MSI Big Bang XPower II offers up 22 phases for the CPU power delivery. This improves the stability of the system and provides a clean power stream for the CPU. While PCI Express Gen 3 expansion cards aren’t really taking advantage of the Gen 3 technology just yet, when they do the MSI Big Bang XPower II is ready for them. The Big Bang XPower II features four PCIe x16 Gen 3 expansion slots and will support NVIDIA 4-Way SLI and AMD 4-Way CrossFireX.

Since the MSI Big Bang XPower II is targeted to the extreme overclocking crowd, it has several features that are designed with them in mind. MSI has incorporated their Direct OC feature onto the board. The Direct OC feature is a pair of buttons along the edge of the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) that can be used to adjust the CPU Frequency on the fly. If you’re worried about power to the CPU during your extreme cooling sessions MSI has you covered. They have included a pair of 8pin CPU power plugs for the CPU and a 6pin PCIe connector for the PCIe x16 Gen 3 slots.

MSI Big Bang XPower II Intel X79 Motherboard Specifications

CPU Supports 2nd Generation Intel® Core i7 processors in LGA2011 package.
Chipset Intel X79 Chipset
Main Memory Supports eight unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2133*/2400* (OC) DRAM, 128GB Max
Supports Quad channel mode
Slot 4 PCI Express gen3 x16 slots

  • PCI_E1 supports up to PCIE x16 speed
  • PCI_E5 supports up to PCIE x16 speed when PCI_E3 is empty, or supports x8 speed when PCI_E3 is occupied
  • PCI_E3 & PCI_E7 support up to PCIE x8 speed

3 PCI Express gen2 x16 slots

  • PCI_E2, PCU_E4 & PCI_E6 support up to PCIE x1 speed
On-Board SATA SATAII controller integrated in Intel X79 chipset

  • Up to 3Gb/s transfer speed.
  • Supports four SATAII ports (SATA3~6) by X79

SATAIII controller integrated in Intel X79 chipset

  • Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
  • Supports two SATAIII ports (SATA1~2) by X79

SATAIII controller integrated in ASMedia ASM 1061 chipset

  • Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
  • Supports four SATAIII ports (SATA7~10)

RAID

  • SATA1~6 ports support Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (AHCI / RAID 0/1/5/10) by Intel X79
USB 3.0
  • 1 USB 3.0 internal connector by NEC D720200
  • 4 USB 3.0 rear I/O ports by NEC D720200
Audio Chipset integrated by Realtek ALC892

  • Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
  • Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
  • Meet Microsoft Vista Premium spec
LAN Supports dual PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Intel 82579V and 82574L.
IEEE1394 / FireWire VIA VT6315N chipset

  • Supports up to two 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, pinheader x1)
  • Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps.
Internal I/O Connectors
  • ATX 24-Pin power connector
  • 2 x 8-pin Power connectors
  • CPU x 1 / System x 5 FAN connectors
  • Front panel audio connector
  • Front panel connector
  • 1 x Chasis intrusion connector
  • 2 x USB 2.0 connectors
  • 1 x USB 3.0 connectors
  • 4 x Serial ATAII connectors
  • 6 x Serial ATAIII connectors
  • 1 x IEEE1394 connector
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x Power button
  • 1 x Reset button
  • 1 x OC Genie button
  • 2 x Base clock buttons
  • 1 x Multi BIOS button
Back Panel I/O Ports
  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 1 x Coaxial SPDIF port
  • 1 x Optical SPDIF port
  • 1 x IEEE1394 port
  • 2 x RJ45 LAN Jacks
  • 6 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack
BIOS
  • The mainboard BIOS provides “Plug & Play” BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
  • The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
Dimension • 34.5cm(L) x 26.4cm(W) XL-ATX Form Factor

As we continue through the review today, we will take a look at additional features, gaming performance, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance, and the SATA III 6Gbps performance. That’s not all though, we will see how far we are able to push our Intel Core i7 3960X with the OC Genie II as well as manually overclocking the system. Join us on the next page as we take a look at the retail packaging and the accompanying bundle for the MSI Big Bang XPower II Intel X79 motherboard!

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