MSI Big Bang XPOWER Reviewccokeman - July 8, 2010
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The Cell Menu is where all of the CPU and memory specific voltages and timings can be manipulated to provide real performance enhancements. If you plan on overclocking, this section is where you will spend the majority of time when in the BIOS. However, if you plan on running at default speeds on the memory and processor you most likely will not need to venture into this arena. The top of this section gives a brief snapshot of the currently applied clock speeds on the CPU, Memory, and QPI bus. The top two options are to provide information about the processors specifications and features. Active processor cores lets you disable cores to try and reach higher clock speeds when overclocking for single threaded benchmarks like Super Pi. Intel's Performance enhancing and energy saving technologies EIST, C1E, and Turbo Boost technology can be enabled or disabled depending on your needs.
Adjusting the base clock frequency and CPU ratio are two tools used to overclock the processor. The maximum setting for the base clock frequency is 600Mhz, well above what is currently reachable. The CPU ratio is locked to the maximum Turbo boost multiplier for unlocked CPUs. The Core i7 920 used for this review has a maximum multiplier of 20 although 21 can be set and is usable.
The operation of the OC Genie Switch and Base clock buttons can be enabled or disabled. This is short, sweet, and to the point.
The memory options on the Xpower are pretty substantial. The Memory-Z function shows the SPD programming of the modules. The DRAM timing mode is something different from what other manufacturers include and looks more suited to an option on an AMD based motherboard. The options are Auto, Unlinked, and Linked. When set to unlinked you can adjust the memory sub-timings by channel under the Advanced DRAM settings tab. This option could prove invaluable for tuning that last MHz out of your system. The Advanced DRAM Configuration section allows you to set the timings manually for increased performance all at once or by channel. Xtreme Memory Profile lets you configure the memory and system based on settings programmed onto the memory modules SPD chip.
The memory and Uncore ratios are both adjustable and interconnected. The Uncore ratio will always need to be at least double the memory ratio.
QPI Link speed can be set to Slow mode or Full Speed while the QPI frequency will be limited by your processor. The frequency on the Core i7 920 is 4.800GT but increases as the baseclock frequency is adjusted.
Clockgen Tuner lets you increase the current through the CPU and PCIe bus to help stabilize and overclock. PCIe Frequency can be adjusted again to help raise bclock frequency and ultimately a higher overclock. The voltage options on the Xpower are similar to what was available on the Eclipse SLI and are granular enough to allow for fine voltage tuning. Voltage to the CPU, IOH, QPI, and memory can be increased to levels higher than those shown by activating the over-voltage dip switches on the bottom edge of the PCB of the Xpower. MSI has given the enthusiast the tools, now it's up to you how you use them.