Creating a Bang - MSI Trinergy P55 Motherboard Preview

MSI Unleashes the Big Bang

MSI Unleashes the Big Bang

Whatever you may have heard about MSI's Big Bang motherboard - 'Lucid' and 'Hydra' are the keywords that come to mind - is not what you're hoping for. Apparently, despite the initial optimism sparked by AnandTech's feature, the short answer is that this motherboard, Big Bang Fuzion is delayed till Q1 2010 due to a need to tweak the software and drivers for Windows 7. Or so they tell us. So unfortunately, you won't be mixing and matching your graphics cards for Christmas.

Instead, what got released recently is another motherboard. It seems that the Big Bang we have heard so much about is actually a new series, not a stand-alone product. This other, new product in the Big Bang series is known as Trinergy (we presume short for tri-energy) and it will be the new flagship P55 motherboard in MSI's lineup. In this industry, that means it's chock full of the greatest and latest technologies the vendor can add to give it that premium, luxurious feel.

Keeping with a heavy use of black and dark blues, this new Big Bang Trinergy is recognizably a MSI motherboard of recent pedigree.

Well it definitely looks a lot like MSI's current P55-GD80 motherboard, which we felt was pretty good for its class. So what did MSI do to improve on its previous board?

What's New

Like we said earlier, there's nothing like adding the latest in-thing to add value and price to a motherboard and MSI has gone with the more expensive hi-c capacitors on the Trinergy. Now the technology itself isn't that new. It's just rather costly to have the entire board using these capacitors rather than saving them for more crucial components like the CPU PWM. MSI has chosen these capacitors for its longer lifespan, greater stability and better overclocking. All of which are characteristics overclockers look out for and which are likely to pay for this kind of board.

Add to that the 'Super Ferrite Chokes' used, which MSI says will lead to lower power consumption, sufficient to help the Trinergy satisfy the strict energy consumption standards for Europe that calls for less than 0.5W power draw during standby for electronics products.

MSI claims that the Trinergy is the first motherboard to use these hi-c cap or highly-conductive polymerized capacitors. We'll admit that while we have seen such capacitors on other boards, it's the first time we're seeing it completely dotting the whole board. Next, the ferrite chokes used here are claimed to be 20% more power efficient than the normal ones while its extremely low impedance helps to keep temperatures low.

The other new addition is the OC Dashboard, which is an external module for overclockers to tweak and monitor their systems without going into the BIOS or even running the usual overclocking software application. It's not exactly revolutionary but coupled with MSI's OC Genie, it should make overclocking and troubleshooting even easier and more convenient.

A new extension to its OC Genie technology, this OC Dashboard allows users to adjust their BIOS settings for overclocking purposes, as well as monitor settings like temperature and voltages in real time.

There are options to connect the Dashboard via the mini-USB cable or through a special OC Dashboard cable provided. You can connect the provided cable through the rear I/O or by plugging it directly onto the board.

Next, one of the major differences between this P55 motherboard and most of its peers is the Trinergy's ability to do 3-way SLI (in the form of x16/x8/x8). Thanks to a extra NVIDIA nForce 200 controller, this feature is now possible. Admittedly, this is something that only a small minority of enthusiasts will do, but currently, only eVGA has a similar board.

Now you may wonder why is the chipset heatsink larger than usual on this board. Well, the answer is that the Trinergy also has an NVIDIA NF200 controller beneath this heatsink that provides the extra PCIe lanes required for 3-way SLI.

Finally, with all that happening onboard, it's perhaps not surprising that MSI has to move its onboard audio CODEC to a separate module. While it comes with a fancy Quantum Wave name and supports EAX Advanced HD 5.0, this is not a true Creative product with the required audio hardware, but rather a Realtek HD audio CODEC solution that relies on your CPU for audio processing.

MSI has gone back to using an add-on card for audio. This audio module, dubbed Quantum Wave uses an Realtek ALC889 HD audio CODEC and supports THX TruStudio and EAX Advanced HD 5.0.