MSI X79 Big Bang XPower II review
Posted by Hilbert Hagedoorn on: 01/02/2012 02:00 PM [ 0 comment(s) ]
Final words and conclusion
The MSI Big bang XPower II is an incredible motherboard in many ways. The only thing lacking really would be Wireless Ethernet and / or Bluetooth. Other then that this dark demonic piece of hardware is chucked full with features, and looking very nice.
The XPower II is an impressive motherboard. It's feature rich, a great overclocker and has downright gorgeous looks. If you are a novice overclocker and go for easy as 1-2-3, flick the OC Genie button and it will get you an instant performance boost, our processor was clocked automatically towards 4 GHz. But that's a little pale compared to what you already get at default baseline performance.
Overclocking itself with the UEFI BIOS is fun as well, it really is an easy to work in environment. MSI implemented two uEFI BIOSes by the way, you can can switch in-between them (say a normal and high performance profile), good stuff.
We do like to recommend to MSI though to explain the BIOS features better. For example while overclocking you like to disable VDROOP at BIOS level. Right now when you look at the VDROOP settings it ON or you can select level 1 to 7. Without an explanation what these levels do stuff like that is a bit of a mystery. A lot of BIOS features could leave you wondering what exactly they do, and that might hinder a better overclock result.
For overclocking itself we reached 4900 MHz in a matter of minutes really. the motherboard did need some somewhat advanced fine-tuning though. Mind you though that we work with vanilla picked engineering sample CPUs, we can never guarantee you'll achieve the same results at home. It works vice versa as well, we've seen end-users with much higher overclocks then we have ever achieved. Yeah yeah, rub it in my face, that's OK!
BTW I'm confident that 5 GHz+ is a valid possibility with this motherboard as well, yet with the Corsair H100 cooler we reached an upper threshold in temperatures. E.g. hitting 80~90 Degrees C will ruin your day :)
So once again, we have little to complain, whatever memory we popped in it worked right out of the box, the XMP profiles are recognized and can be activated making your memory configurations really easy.
The board layout itself is pretty good, there are so many extra ICs on the motherboard that there hardly is any room left for anything else. Each square inch was tucked full and the many power phases will make sure each component has the right and stable amount of juice flowing through it.
The motherboard looks the way it does, a clean and stylish dark design. Please do realize that the motherboard is based on an XL-ATX form factor, that means its slightly bigger then you are used too. Make sure it fits in your chassis, the dimensions are 34.5 x 26.4 cm for those that like to measure that up and check.
The baseline performance of the product is better then your average X79 motherboard, this is due to the trick we explained. MSI has changed the Turbo bin variable for you at default to 3900 MHz on all logical CPU cores when the processors threaded Turbo's kick in. So If all cores are in use they all run at 3900 MHz, hence the higher then normal baseline performance offset.
With a price tag of roughly 300 EUR the Big Bang XPower II isn't a cheap motherboard alright, it however does bring a lot to the table. The sheer design, the build quality, 6x USB 3.0, 10x SATA (6 SATA3), the Intel Gigabit Ethernet jacks, 8 DIMMs, multi-GPU SLI and Crossfire(X) modes, dual BIOS, OC Genie, a 22 Phase PWM Design with a maximum output power of 770 Watts, the seven x16 PCIE slots, Gen 3 compatibility, and sure the niche overclockability didn't disappoint either. It's just a very well thought through motherboard that brings an exceptional basis towards the X79 chipset.
Luckily the "military" theme with the Gatling gun and bullet coolers didn't go over the top, it's all done subtle... and that is the word that defines the X79 Big Bang XPower II the best, subtle. Fact remains that with a much cheaper motherboard you'll achieve the very same overclocks with liquid cooling, it's however the design and sheer features that pushes the XPower II into a higher level. We like the motherboard very much and definitely can recommend it towards any enthusiast, as we assume, nobody will run a Sandy Bridge-E processor at default clock frequencies ;)
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MSI today launches their Big Bang XPower II motherboard, we review and test it. A military themed motherboard for which they took the Intel Sandy Bridge-E chipset called X79, then they started designing a motherboard that will knock you of your feet once you place your first glimpse on it.