MSI Big Bang XPOWER Reviewccokeman -
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The Core i7 Nehalem architecture was introduced almost two years ago. Socket 1366 motherboards to support this new architecture from Intel were available en masse at launch and provided a great performance platform for the new processors. After close to two years, the platform needed a little updating as newer technologies, such as USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s, and higher end graphics solutions became available. At launch we looked at the Eclipse SLI and, shortly thereafter, the X58 Platinum SLI from MSI. Each had their strengths and weaknesses, but delivered solid performance. Lately, MSI has ratcheted up its product line up both on the video card and motherboard segments with the Big Bang series and latest video cards including the HD 5870 Lightning. The use of Military Class components including Hi-c Capacitors, Super Ferrite Chokes and solid capacitors mean you get a product that lasts longer, runs more efficiently, and operates at lower temperatures. Add in value added tools like the OC Genie and you get a high performing board at a reasonable cost. On paper the Xpower looks like a winner. Let's see if the Xpower can gain some credential as an overclocking board for the gamer and enthusiast, all the while delivering rock solid performance at baseline levels. If the performance characteristics of the Eclipse SLI translate to an expectation of performance, the Xpower should do well.
The MSI Big Bang Xpower motherboard comes in a flashy gold and black themed package. The front panel shows the Big Bang graphic with the slogan "Designed for the Extreme Gamer" under the Xpower logo.The graphics along the bottom of the front panel list the processors supported (Intel Socket 1366), the chipset package (X58, ICH10R), support for Windows 7, and both CrossFireX and SLI multi-GPU strategies. The rear panel of the package again points out these capabilities while also pointing out the additional features such as the DrMOS Server grade MOSFETs, cooling capabilities of the Superpipe cooling system, and the 1-second overclocking with the use of the OC Genie. MSI has not left any stone unturned with regard to providing information for the consumer on its packaging. The front panel flips open to display not only the Big Bang Xpower board but also another snapshot of yet more features on this board. Military Class component usage is a highlight showing that these components include Hi-c caps, ICY chokes and solid capacitor use. The Quantum Wave audio cards capabilities are listed with USB 3.0, SATA 6GB/s, and multi-GPU strategies.
When you slip the motherboard out of the outer shell, you are left with two separate boxes. One box contains the Xpower motherboard, while the other holds the accessory bundle. As a premium board, you can hazard a guess that the bundle would be on the premium side as well. MSI does not disappoint in this respect as the bundle fill the box to the brim with the parts needed to use all the functionality of this board.
The packaging is out of the way; let's see what the bundle of accessories looks like and how it sets this board apart from the crowd.