P1020933 MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

Today we take a look at MSI's flagship X79 motherboard. This feature packed overclocking board is aimed at anyone who wants something extreme. A 22 phase VRM coupled with quad SLI capability and every OC feature from direct OC buttons to manual PCI-E switches this board packs a strong punch, but does it live up to all the hype?

Introduction: 

VRMheatinks MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

The MSI X79 BigBang X-Power II (X79 BigBang) is MSI's top dog motherboard. Combine a very rich and abundant set of components and team it up with some cool overclocking features and then add some sugar and spice and you'll have something nice. The X79 BigBang doesn't cease to impress, whether it be in raw performance or innovation, MSI has done their best to put out a very special board within its own respects. If you are an overclocker this board really hits all the main points, yet it also has features for gamers and hardcore workstation people as well. 

 MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

The X79 chipset has all the goodies one could ever imagine, except for a few things. First off it is missing USB 3.0, something we hope to see with Intel's Z77 chipset. Second it is missing all of those additional SAS or SATA6GB/s ports we saw on earlier X79 prototypes. That was a lot of SATA/SAS ports and now we have none of it, so we basically have a redo of the Z68 chipset just without SSD Caching and iGPU support.

What is more interesting about the LGA2011 platform is what is the CPU has in store for us. Even though the current LGA2011 CPU's lack virtualization and PCI-E 3.0 certification, they still have many features. Quad channel memory controller with supreme overclocking abilities is a plus as is PCI-E 3.0 which can't be claimed until the second stepping gets PCI-SIG certification. We seem to take for granted the 40 PCI-E lanes and native Quad SLI/CF support. With LGA2011 we have Intel moving back to satisfy the overclocker, of course not how we would like, but BLCK straps are nothing to push to the side. Today we will take a look at MSI’s top LGA2011 board for overclockers, gamers, and enthusiasts, let’s see how it does. 

 

Specifications:
 
 

MSI X79 BigBang X-Power II 

CPU Support

Supports 2nd Generation Intel® Core i7 processors in LGA2011 package.

Chipset

Intel X79 Express

Memory

Supports eight unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 1066/1333/1600/1866*/2133*/2400* (OC) DRAM, 128GB Max
- Supports Quad channel mode

Multi-GPU Support

Supports NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX™ Technology

Expansion Slots

• 4 PCI Express gen3 x16 slots

- PCI_E1 supports up to PCIE x16 speed
- PCI_E5 supports up to PCIE x16 speed when PCI_E3 is empty, or supports x8 speed when PCI_E3 is occupied
- PCI_E3 & PCI_E7 support up to PCIE x8 speed
• 3 PCI Express gen2 x16 slots
- PCI_E2, PCU_E4 & PCI_E6 support up to PCIE x1 speed

Storage

SATAII controller integrated in Intel® X79 chipset 
- Up to 3Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports four SATAII ports (SATA3~6) by X79

• SATAIII controller integrated in Intel® X79 chipset
- Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports two SATAIII ports (SATA1~2) by X79

• SATAIII controller integrated in ASMedia® ASM 1061 chipset
- Up to 6Gb/s transfer speed.
- Supports four SATAIII ports (SATA7~10)

• RAID
- SATA1~6 ports support Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (AHCI / RAID 0/1/5/10) by Intel X79
 

LAN

Supports dual PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Intel 82579V and 82574L.

Audio

• Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC898
- Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
- Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
- Meet Microsoft Vista Premium spec

USB

• 1 USB 3.0 internal connector by NEC® D720200
• 4 USB 3.0 rear I/O ports by NEC® D720200

FireWire

-• VIA® VT6315N chipset

- Supports up to two 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, pinheader x1)
- Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps.

Back Panel I/O Ports

- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard port

- 1 x Clear CMOS button
- 1 x Coaxial SPDIF port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF port
- 1 x IEEE1394 port
- 2 x RJ45 LAN Jacks
- 6 x USB 2.0 ports
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x 6 in 1 audio jack

Internal I/O Connectors

- ATX 24-Pin power connector

- 2 x 8-pin Power connectors
- CPU x 1 / System x 5 FAN connectors
- Front panel audio connector
- Front panel connector
- 1 x Chasis intrusion connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 connectors
- 1 x USB 3.0 connectors
- 4 x Serial ATAII connectors
- 6 x Serial ATAIII connectors
- 1 x IEEE1394 connector
- 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
- 1 x Power button
- 1 x Reset button
- 1 x OC Genie button
- 2 x Base clock buttons
- 1 x Multi BIOS button

Form Factor

34.5cm(L) x 26.4cm(W) XL-ATX Form Factor