box MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

MSI doesn't cut any costs when it comes to their Big Bang series, what many manufacturers haven't yet realized that is users look the the top of the line to see how the entire line-up stacks up. Nice picture of what someone thought the actual big bang looked like.  

acessories MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

The accessories in this board are pretty plentiful, but we were under the impression that MSI was going to provide a USB 3.0 or OC Genie front panel. We do however get an extra USB 3.0 bracket for the back of the case. MSI also didn't include the hard to find 4-way SLI bridge, which is a bit odd to be missing from a board which supports it. 

  • 8x SATA6GB/s Cables (half angled) 
  • 2x eSATA Cables
  • eSATA bracket
  • eSATA bracket SATA power cables
  • 2x CrossFireX Bridges
  • 1x SLI Bridge
  • 1x Extra Long SLI Bridge
  • I/O Panel
  • USB 3.0 Braket
  • Voltage Read Wires
  • 2X M-Connectors

 

manuals MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

 

MSI has provided a lot of documents. The X79 overclocking guide included is extremely basic, however it does show that MSI has used a modified clock generator buffer to enhance BLCK Divider OC, which users have proved to be over and beyond that of any other X79 board.  

board MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

This is the first MSI board we have seen which has an actual black PCB, no brown from copper traces as we see on many previous MSI boards. MSI has made the X79 BigBang really big. It's the full ATX-XL length, longer than the X79-UD7(also ATX-XL) by an inch or two. You will need a full-size ATX-XL compatible case to fit this behemoth. The heatsinks are a bit overdone in our opinion, the Gatling Gun would have been enough but the golden bullets are over the top. If it can be angled MSI has done it when it comes to connectivity, this is the first board with a right angled USB 3.0 internal header. All of the overclocking features are positions pretty much at the bottom of the board, with some features like BIOS switches and power switch scattered across the board. You will immediately notice large amounts of PCI-E 16x slots, yet practically only 4 of them support GPUs.  

backpanel MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

  • 6x USB 2.0 ports
  • PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse 
  • Clear CMOS button
  • S/PDIF optical and digital
  • 1x 1394A IEEE 
  • 2x 1GBit RJ-45 LAN
  • 4x USB 3.0
  • 7.1 Audio  

upper MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

We can see that MSI has implemented 8 DIMMs which support up to 128GB of memory and colored them all black. They have special clips on the side facing the VRM heatsinks so that only one side needs to be unlatched. Basically they have the clips in the opposite orientation of that of the Rampage IV Extreme as the DIMMs are close to the VRM heatsink. Dual 8-Pin 12v CPU power connectors can provide more power than your CPU can ever pull for extreme overclocking. A power button is located all by itself in the upper right corner and voltage read points are located below the 24-pin connector. There is a large heatsink in the center of the board, it doesn't cool anything other than two phases for the VCCIO, it is major overkill and serves minimal practical purpose.  

slots MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

We can see 7 PCI-E 16x slots. 

  1. PCI-E 3.0 @ 16X
  2. PCI-E 2.0 @ 8X (1X)
  3. PCI-E 3.0 @ 8X
  4. PCI-E 2.0 @ 8X (1X)
  5. PCI-E 3.0 @ 16X
  6. PCI-E 2.0 @ 8X (1X)
  7. PCI-E 3.0 @ 8X

MSI says that slots 2,4,6 are PCI-E 2.0 slots that support only 1x cards, but from what we have seen all three are connected to the PLX bridge provided, so if you have a 4x card it will work if you only use one of those PCI-E 2.0 slots. The PCH only has 8X lanes, and the PLX Bridge used can output 8X lanes, so it is probable that even an 8X device might work but the performance might be very low. The reason is that the PCH only has 8X PCI-E 2.0 lanes for connectivity and there are 8 chips that provide various functions like USB 3.0 and each of them uses a single PCI-E 2.0 lane. That leaves zero lanes for the 1X slots, but we will discuss how MSI can avoid this later. 

bottomright MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

We see that all the connectors for SATA and Internal USB 3.0 are all angled off to the right. We even have an extra 6-pin power connector for the PCI-E slots when running 3-Way or 4-Way SLI/CF. MSI used the highest quality connectors as well. This is the first board we see using a right-angled USB 3.0 connector as the technology is new because of USB 3.0 signal limitations. 

Bottom OC MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

The features are really cool however, the BLCK buttons are a wonderful addition as the PCI-E ceasefire is excellent for watercoolers and extreme benchers, but they are almost in a counter intuitive position. Here we see a nice POST code display, but we are unsure as to who thought out the positioning of different onboard components when they designed this board. The POST code display is facing right, the buttons are all facing down, and the power button is off in the middle of nowhere, and the ClearCMOS is on the back panel. This would all be okay if they were in functional positions as the power button is, but all the OC features like the PCI-E disable switches and BLCK increase/decrease switches are easily blocked by a GPU in the last slot when running 4-Way SLI. This might not be a major issue for the majority of users, but gamers don't usually have 4-way SLI. Extreme overclockers use it more often, so that begs the question as to why these features were positioned this way.

heatsink MSI X79 Big Bang X Power II Review

The heatsinks are very heavy, and they add a tremendous amount of weight to the board. This is probably one of the heaviest motherboards ever built. They also use a very large heatpipe to cool down the PCH, this would have been important when the PCH had the SAS ports, but since they are disabled the PCH runs cool enough not to need extra cooling such as fans.