MSI X79 Big Bang XPower II Review

👤by Richard Weatherstone Comments 📅10-01-12
Specification & Features


Compared to the specification of our last three motherboard subjects based on the X79 chipset, the Big Bang Xpower II looks quite a formidable opponent having the lion’s share of on-board features. Like the board itself, the most striking feature is the seven PCIe slots! Quite who would require such connectivity I can't imagine. With the X79 chipset supporting 40 PCIe lanes MSI have had to work some magic to allow 4x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots along with 3x PCIE 2.0 x16 slots, more on this later.

Of lesser interest (but interest nonetheless) is the inclusion of XFI sound and a first that we know of: a dual LAN system. As you would expect from a top of the range motherboard, there are a plethora of SATA and USB ports and with 8 DDR3 DIMM slots supporting quad channel memory of up to 128GB and you have one seriously powerful mainboard.

How does it compare with the competition though?

More power phases theoretically should equate to a cleaner, more stable power however as we have seen, the ASRock Xtreme4-M mATX board we reviewed previously actually clocked higher than the GD65(8D) so while this is an indication of power, it shouldn't be chosen on this factor alone. The ASRock cannot compete with the big 3 in the VGA stakes as it cannot physically support 4 dual slot graphics cards and both the ASRock and ASUS 'RIVE' neither have direct OC buttons or a fanless design so the MSI wins out here too.

Overall the MSI mainboard, on paper at least, appears to have the accolade of motherboard king in the bag already with a feature rich specification and enough grunt to power Silicon Valley (almost). As we have seen previously though, what is written on paper does not always translate to real-life performance.

One of the main attractions to the X79 chipset will be the huge bandwidth available courtesy of 8 DIMM slots capable of delivering up to 128GB. Couple this with PCIe Gen 3, 6Gb/s SATA and USB 3.0 along with the usual array of multimedia connectivity and X79 becomes a very complete proposition.

Intel X79 Express Chipset Block Diagram


PCI Express Gen 3
PCIe 3.0 affords twice the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 (up to 32GB/s). Supports 4 dual-slot graphics cards along with support for 4-way SLI/Crossfire.

Xtreme Power Design
Extra power sockets for extreme overclocking. Dual 8pin for CPU along with an extra 6-pin connector for VGA's. Powered by a 22 Phase PWM design along with Hybrid digital power makes the MSI mainboard one of the most powerful boards we have tested to date at Vortez.

Military III Class Components
The MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) features the third incarnation of the Military Class series which features Solid Capacitors throughout, Super Ferrite Core chokes, Hi-C CAP, DrMOS II all tested, as the name suggests, the military standards receiving MIL-STD-810G Certification.

DrMOS II Thermal Protection
A handy LED will light up on the motherboard when the MOSFETs are approaching a critical temperature. IF you don’t see the LED then a pop-up message will be displayed (via Control Center II). Should the temperature exceed the high temperature point, the system will automatically shutdown.

Another claim by MSI is the world’s first Unified UEFI GUI based interface. Rather than the old 8bit BIOS display we are all used to, the new UEFI setup allows the end user to adjust settings with the use of a mouse. The Click BIOS II module in windows works exactly the same way although a reboot is required for the settings to take effect.

THX TruStudio Pro
A Hollywood-grade high-fidelity sound reproduction standard which accurately reproduces the fullest audio experience of movie, music and game soundtracks for PC platforms

Multi-BIOS II provides the convenience to switch to the backup BIOS for system failure protection. Extra BIOS for LN2 overclocking needs.

Control Center II
This utility allows realtime monitoring of system devices and also allows system performance tuning of the CPU Baseclock, ratios, voltages and memory frequencies.

Super Charger
Rather than using a standard USB port, the Super Charger allows users to make use of 3x faster charging courtesy of 1.5A being pumped through the on-board USB port.

USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s are built in as standard allowing upto 5GBps bandwidth for USB devices and 6Gb/s on the SATA III devices.

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