Overclocking & Stability
Overclocking is not an exact science. For example, every processor is different and just because your friend's Core i5/i7 processor hit 4GHz on air doesn't mean that yours will, even if using the same settings and hardware. Many factors can influence what a processor is capable of. These factors include complementary components like the motherboard, memory, power supply and cooling. In addition, user experience definitely comes into play as there is an abundance of modifiable settings within the BIOS. Overclocking is, by its very nature, unpredictable. Even if you buy a CPU according to make, model, and week of production, there's no telling how much additional overclocked performance you might or might not get.
Since the MSI Big Bang XPower is so clearly aimed at high-end overclockers we decided to swap to a CPU and cooling system we'd seen in action before. We borrowed the Core i7-920 (and its Koolance cooler) from inside the Origin Genesis rig we've reviewed previously, swapped them into the XPower, and set out to see if the Big Bang could push the chip as far as EVGA's X58 Classified SLI.
The answer is yes. We were able to duplicate the other motherboard's settings with no detriment to system stability. For those of you who might not recall, that's a base clock of 192MHz, a CPU base speed of 3.84GHz, RAM at ~1540Hz, and an Uncore clock of 3.08GHz.
We benchmarked the Big Bang at 2.67GHz and 3.84GHz, as shown below:
We tested the Elpida DDR3-1333, our Corsair Dominator at its rated 1600MHz, and the Elpida RAM at 1600MHz (said DIMMs having proven stable at that speed in past reviews). The Big Bang passed all three checks with flying colors.