Maximum PC Staff Sep 23, 2010

MSI Big Bang-XPower

Did the universe begin with an LGA1366 CPU and MSI's Big Bang?

One look at the Big Bang-XPower’s row of six x16 physical PCI-E slots tells you the board is special. PCI? Feh, who the hell needs that in 2010?

MSI has now also adopted the one-clip DIMM slots that let you easily remove RAM without having to pull out the GPU first. The board also includes a somewhat nifty wired remote to monitor system vitals and perform an overclock. Unfortunately, we found the OC Dashboard a bit buggy. While trying to crank up the bclock using the small device, we had to manually refresh the display in order to see the correct frequency.

MSI's top X58 board features a wired remote for overclocking and a riser card for audio.

MSI is the only board of the three here to include an audio riser card to get the audio codecs off the electrically noisy mobo floor. The “Quantum Wave” card still uses the same Realtek ALC889 chip as the other two boards here, but MSI licensed Creative’s algorithms, including ALchemy as well as EAX5 in software.

The Big Bang is aimed at overclockers and it shows. Because extreme overclockers apparently need more voltage than a small city, the Big Bang has not one, but two EPS12V 8-pin connectors to juice the CPU. An additional 6-pin GPU power connector helps feed current to multi-GPU setups. Want to override the standard voltage limits on the board? A set of switches lets you do that. Don’t trust the mobo’s voltage readout? You can directly check voltage output with a multimeter. Also quite nifty: touch-sensitive surface buttons that let you power on, reset, and vary the bclock. They’re no better than standard buttons but they’re cooler.

We found few layout issues to beef about, and this is the only LGA1366 board that doesn’t impede your access to the GPU release switch. We did find what we consider a bug, though: The board defaults to S1 standby, which keeps all of the fans whirring and power going to the peripherals. The European EuP 2013 mode, aka use-less-than-1W-of-power mode, is also on, which prevents USB devices from waking the machine. Here in America, we can use more than 1 watt on standby, so set the board to S3 standby, disable the EuP 2013 mode, and switch on “wake on USB.”

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MSI Big Bang-XPower

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