MSI Big Bang XPower Review: X58, Military Style - HotHardware

MSI Big Bang XPower Review: X58, Military Style

0 thumbs up

The MSI XPower series of motherboards is clearly designed to curry favor with overclocking enthusiasts and the high-end gamers Asus has targeted with its Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand. The XPower packs full support for all the latest buzzwords and capabilities, but MSI is also claiming to offer certain unique features that other manufacturers can't match currently. We're always interested in new innovations and ideas when it comes to motherboard design; let's take a look at the oomph behind MSI's Big Bang. 


MSI Big Bang XPower

The XPower is as much a love letter to enthusiasts as it is a motherboard; the company's verbage occasionally dips into phrasing better suited to a trashy romance novel. Allow us to provide a few examples:

"Through long-standing development and with much energy, MSI formed the state-of-the-art gaming line inspired by the mighty Big Bang...[which] will deliver the shock and awe of unprecedented gaming experience and expand into its own collection of galaxies." The board's military-grade components (more on those in a moment) offer "incredible long...potential." QuantumWave Audio processing "delivers the most powerful and realistic performance" and offers "the fullest...experience."

MSI Big Bang XPower
Specifications & Features

Processor Support 
LGA1366 Socket for Intel Core i7 Processors
Supports Intel TurboBoost Technology

Chipset
 Intel X58  Chipset
Intel ICH10R Southbridge
   
Memory 
 6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2133(OC) 1600/1333/ 1066MHz Non-ECC, Unbuffered RAM
Triple Channel memory architecture
   
Expansion Slots 
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x16 speed)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x8 speed)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 speed)
1 x PCIe 1.1 x1
 
Multi-GPU Support:
Supports  NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI Technology
Suports ATI Quad-GPU CrossFireX Technology

Storage
Intel X58 Chipset
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10

JMicron JMB362 eSATA controller
1 x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port
1 x eSATA/USB 2 Port

Marvell PCIe SATA 6.0Gb/s Controller
2 x SATA 6.0 GB/s ports (gray)
 
Audio
QuantumWave Audio Card
Realtek ALC889

LAN
2 x Realtek 8111DL Gigabit LAN Controller
IEEE-1394
1 x IEEE1394a (VIA VT6315N) Internal
1 x IEEE1394a External

USB
10 USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at back I/O, 4 ports onboard)
2 x USB 3.0 ports (blue)Back Panel I/O

Ports
1 x PS/2 keyboard port (purple)
1 x PS/2 mouse port (green)
1 x Clear CMOS
1 x D-LED2 Panel Connector
1 x 1394 Port
5 x USB 2 Ports
1 x eSATA Ports
1 x eSATA/USB 2.0 Ports
2 x LAN RJ-45 Ports
2 x USB 3.0 Ports
 
Internal I/O Connectors
2 x USB 2.0 Connectors
1 x 1394a Connector
1 x Chassis Intrusion Detector
1 x TPM Module Connector
1 x Reset Button
1 x Power Button
1 x GreenGenie Connector (Optional)
1 x Over-Voltage Switch
1 x Set Voltage Check Point
1 x OC Genie Button
2 x Base Clock Control Buttons
1 x Set Debug LED Panel

Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30 cm x 24.4 cm )


There's more. The Hi-c capacitors (used in lieu of solid capacitors) are "specially selected for those who want to bring their mainboard to the next level of...performance." They also ensure that a hardcore gamer's "rig" continues to operate "in extreme condition."

Tongues planted firmly in cheek, we move on to the motherboard's accessory bundle.

   

The XPower serves up a double portion of accessory goodness at a time when most manufacturers have cut back on bundled largesse. Included are six SATA cables, multiple CrossFire bridge cables of varying lengths, eSATA cables, an eSATA PCI bracket that includes external power, cables for the motherboard voltage checks, external overclocking control via breakout box, and an independent sound card designed to fit the board's single PCIe x1 slot.

Article Index:

1 2 Next
0
+ -

Nice Mainboard!

It's just hard for me to wrap my brain around a $300.00 Mainboard. So many of the ones in the 120-140 dollar range are quite capable of delivering stellar performance. So I must agree that this is a board for enthusiasts,....those with money to burn. I wish them the best with it too.

0
+ -

Agreed.  $250 is the most I ever spent on a motherboard, and what it taught me is that the tiny extra that you get isn't worth the $100 price jump.

0
+ -

I understand the price remarks--I went to some trouble to highlight that lower-cost boards are still quite strong/preferred options, after all--but if you *are* looking for a high-end board, this is a good one. Luxury products always carry price premiums, but at least the premium on this one is smaller than its competition. ;)

0
+ -

I feel the same way Neil, though since this is an X58 board your looking at $160~180 instead of $120~140.  Still a heck of a lot cheaper than $300 though.

0
+ -

This motherboard has 7 usable PCI-e slots. The other mobos offering this many slots are the ASUS P6T7 WS ($400) and the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD9 ($700). This board is not cheap, but it is still a very good deal for us that require more slots.

0
+ -

Marc.

Would you mind sharing what you use those slots for? As the article author, I'm quite curious. I can see using, say, four slots + the x1 slot (three video cards, one additional network card, and a separate sound card). Four slot boards, however, aren't too hard to find.

What sort of configurations actually make use of seven-slot boards?

0
+ -

Isn't it obvious? You fill them up with PCI-E modems and run a BBS.

Wait... what year is it again?

0
+ -

Joel H:

The issue is less about needing all Q7 slots but the bandwidth limitations on boards with Q4 slots. On every X58 board with four slots I've looked at, the bandwidth is used up prior to the loading the fourth slot for my purposes. I need the slots for a new hot swap HD server that will also be used for video capture.

Below is my slot allocation:

Q1 PCIe x16 Slots - Video Card

Q2 x Pcie x8 Slots - Raid Card & Host Adapter

Q1 x Pcie x4 Slots - HD-SDI Capture Card

Regards,

Marc B.

 

 

0
+ -

Marc B,

It's not clear if you're planning to use a Big Bang, but I'm going to assume you will. You may want to refer to this:  http://hothardware.com/Reviews/MSIs-Big-Bang-XPower-X58-Military-Style/?page=5

You can't build a configuration above three cards that maintains an x16 electrical link to any one slot. I don't think this actually matters very much, since PCIe 2.0 x8 = x16 (and should handle the bandwidth needs of a single card just fine). Are there now PCIe x8 RAID cards that actually take advantage of that much bandwidth? Last I checked around most storage cards seemed to top out at x4 PCIe 1.1.

One other note. Depending on your GPU needs, you might be able to use a 4-slot board with attached x1 connectors. Zotac now builds a 512MB Ion video card that uses the x1 interface. This might let you reapportion your bandwidth in a more suitable configuration.

0
+ -

Looks like a solid board but I agree lots of the features will never be put to use by the average Joe. With that said its good to see MSI putting out a quality product.

1 2 Next
Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment
Username:   Password: