MSI Intel X79 and Sandy Bridge-E Preview

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅18-10-11

It was a warm Friday in October. Something special was being planned by MSI and BenchTec, and was lucky enough to have been granted an invite to a one-off event. Not ones to miss out, Tony, Tim and Dave braved the trains and motorways from all parts of England to be there. The Event:– an overclocking and testing session of MSI’s X79 launch range, specifically to evaluate stability and provide feedback to on-site MSI engineers.

A little background is required. MSI are known for their leading motherboard, graphics cards and laptops with military grade components. Their claims are not idle boasting – they really do test components to military standards and over-engineer products specifically for stability and overclocking. This is perhaps best exemplified by their Lightning range of AMD and NVIDIA Graphics Cards, but that ethos runs through their entire Military Class range.

BenchTec, in their own words:
BenchTec was formed in November 2007 to be the home of UK extreme hardware benchmarking. Bringing together UK-based members of several other teams, we exist to provide a one-stop site to showcase the best talent in the UKs performance computer hardware scene.

If you’re seeking to test unreleased hardware to their limits, you’ll find no better team in the UK. Of this elite team, the members in attendance were El Gappo, scooter.jay, kr0nz3, kitfit1, borandi and ARandomOWl.

Hardware Used

So, with the introductions out of the way, we really should move on to the delicious hardware. First up, four of Intel’s i7 3960X Extreme Edition – the highest end in their launch range of Sandybridge-E CPU’s. These chips were all Intel’s latest C1-Stepping, and represent what consumers will be seeing once Sandybridge-E is formally released later this year.

A killer feature of SandyBridge-E and the X79 platform is Quad-Channel memory, so of course for this session the BenchTec team were keen to push this feature as far as they could. GSkill felt they were up to the awesome channel of doing Sandybridge-E justice, and generously provided a set of 16GB kits for the session. We’re reliably informed they “‘clocked like crazy”.

The third piece to the puzzle came in the way of OS drives and PSU’s. Trying to keep system bottlenecks to a minimum is key, and solid state drives are the obvious direction to turn without compromising stability and set-up time. Furthermore, power stability is essential in any sort of stability testing and overclocking session. OCZ contributed in fine style by providing both 1KW Z-Series PSUs and enough Vertex SSD’s to go around.

As you would expect, MSI showed utmost confidence in their own products by supplying the team with a range of MSI Graphics cards from both NVIDIA’s 500 and AMD’s 6000 series. Yes, we also love the look of the Twin Frozr III cooler, and it’s a great sadness it’s not available as a standalone product.

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