At the beginning of the day, I had mentioned that the looks of a motherboard don’t matter to me as long as it as the performance to back it up. Granted there may be some limitations even for me, but that’s a different story for another time. The MSI Big Bang XPower II definitely did NOT disappoint today in terms of system performance. With the Big Bang moniker the MSI Big Bang XPower II has a lot to live up to, after all that is (arguably) how the universe was created. Since the XPower II is from MSI we expected nothing but the best, and they have delivered today! Currently the MSI Big Bang XPower II is retailing at Newegg.com for $389.99, that price tag puts it right at the top of the charts behind only the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme ($439.99) as well as the EVGA X79 Classified 151-SE-E779-KR ($439.99). Each of these motherboards also have ~$10.00 in shipping costs as well. If you’re looking for a bundle deal, MSI has a limited edition bundle that includes the MSI Big Bang XPower II, MSI Radeon HD R7970-2PMD3GD5, and a full edition of Battlefield 3 that retails for $999.99.
The only caveat to the MSI Big Bang XPower II was the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance. It’s not exactly the fault of MSI, but more of the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller that they choose to use. I guess it does boil down to MSI being at fault, since it was their choice of controllers. The NEC D720200 USB 3.0 controller, or really any of the controllers have been able to stack up to the ASMedia ASM1042 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller used on some of the boards. Of the boards that we have tested recently only two of them have utilized the ASMedia ASM1042 controller, the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme and the BIOSTAR TPower X79. These two mainboards have really set the standard high for the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance.
Overall though, the sequential read speeds weren’t to bad. The MSI Big Bang XPower II was only 16.3MB/s behind the ASUS R4E. Where the MSI Big Bang XPower II took a serious beating was the sequential write. It was more than 70MB/s behind the Rampage IV Extreme and BIOSTAR TPower X79. To be fair though, how many people are using a Corsair Force GT 256GB SSD as an external drive. My personal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 enclosure has a Western Digital 2TB Green drive in it. Using the Corsair Force GT SSD allows us to show the performance difference of the controllers, but there is a good chance most people will be limited by their drive/enclosure speed. For now the ASMedia ASM1042 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controller is king, Intel Z77 is on the horizon all the third party SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controllers may go the way of the dinosaurs. The reason being that Intel is beginning to incorporate SS USB 3.0 into the Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ chipset. I’m sure that it will only be a matter of time before they do the same with the LGA2011 chipsets.
One of the features that I really like about the MSI Big Bang XPower II, and most of the top tier motherboards today is the auto overclocking features. The MSI Big Bang XPower II has a feature known as the OC Genie II. By simply depressing the OC Genie II button on the Big Bang XPower II motherboard we are able to automatically overclock the system. By doing this we were able to bring our Intel Core i7 3960X to 4.0GHz. It isn’t the greatest automatic overclock we have come across, but all of them have been on the conservative side to play it safe. I don’t think anyone wants a motherboard that will brick your $1050.00 Intel i7 3960X processor! That would be bad news for everyone involved. Manually overclocking the system we were able to hit an impressive 4.8GHz with our i7 3960X! We were very happy with how easy we were able to overclock our processor.
We mentioned above that the MSI Big Bang XPower II currently has a street price of $389.99. It’s on the higher side of the available Intel X79 motherboards, but if you are looking for performance it can be well worth the premium price. While the MSI Big Bang XPower II is built to last, there is always the chance of something going wrong. If that happens MSI backs up the Big Bang XPower II with a three year warranty from the date of manufacture. You can read the full details on the MSI warranty here.
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI Big Bang XPower II has the performance to back up the Big Bang moniker. If you’re in the market for an ‘Xtreme’ Intel X79 motherboard the MSI Big Bang XPower II should be on your short list and comes highly recommended!