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Extreme X58 Motherboards - All Hail the Ultimates!

Extreme X58 Motherboards - All Hail the Ultimates!


MSI Big Bang-XPower

MSI Big Bang-XPower

The following is taken from our preview article on the MSI Big Bang-XPower.

Compared to EVGA and Gigabyte, the MSI Big Bang-XPower is closer to being a 'normal' board. At least it's a standard ATX board, though it belongs to MSI's high-end Big Bang series. Unlike the Gigabyte, the XPower has one fewer PCIe x16 expansion slot and there's also a key difference in that its 4-way CrossFireX/SLI is restricted to single-slot graphics cards due to the lack of space. MSI has also not gone with more controllers for more SATA ports; there's just a Marvell chip for the additional two SATA 6Gbps ports.

Instead, MSI's focus seems to be more oriented towards enthusiasts and their need to tweak. Hence, you'll find tools like voltage check points, an external dashboard for monitoring and changing of frequencies and even an onboard switch to lift the voltage limits in the BIOS. In this sense, MSI's approach is closer to that adopted by ASUS and its Republic of Gamers series and EVGA's rather than Gigabyte's heavy storage and stability slant.

Given its ATX dimensions, we were a bit worried about the layout, but the XPower did well enough, with only the two white SATA 6Gbps ports placed in a rather awkward situation. We can imagine that in certain situations, these SATA ports may not be too usable but these scenarios shouldn't pop up too often. As usual, MSI has trotted out its full complement of proprietary technologies, all of which should be familiar to anyone who has seen a recent MSI board. While not all are useful, there are some highlights that are worthy of consideration, like OC Genie and SuperPipe. MSI has also incorporated its 'military grade' aspects that it has used for a few of its premium motherboard and graphics products and you'll find the same type of expensive (and long lasting) components onboard.

The MSI Big Bang-XPower is the least expensive of the trio here, going for S$519, though that's still around S$200 more than the more mainstream implementations of the X58 chipset that's available.