MSI Big Bang XPower Motherboard Review
Board Layout and Design
The MSI XPower motherboard is a full size ATX design that packs a lot of goods in small space. You can see from our overview shot here that the board is passively cooled and is dominated by the black/blue color scheme Big Bang has been utilizing.
One heatpipe cooler runs between the X58 chipset and the MOSFETs while a more basic heatsink covers the ICH10R south bridge and the Marvell storage controller.
Our testing board was used with a set of 3 x 2GB Corsair Dominator modules of matching cooler (coincidence, we swear!) and MSI was smart enough to make sure the primary slots were further away from the processor socket to lessen the chances of a high end cooler getting in the way.
Here you can see the six PCIe x16 slots and the single PCIe x1 used for the audio riser card.
MSI's military class components are seen here including the DrMOS, Super Ferrite Chokes, etc.
Next to the six memory slots that support three-channel memory configurations is the 24-pin ATX power connector and solid caps for power regulation to the memory modules.
The storage configuration of the XPower motherboard includes six SATA 3G ports from the ICH10R south bridge as well as a pair of SATA 6G ports provided by the Marvell 9128 controller. The blue V-Check Points feature seen on the left is used for overclockers to directly monitor voltages going to the CPU, memory, chipsets and more.
Under the graphics slots you will see the MSI OC Genie button, the one-push easy overclocking solution, as well as the capacitive power and reset buttons. The plus and minus icons allow a user to quickly and easily increase the base clock speed (133 MHz default) without having to open software or the BIOS.
Right above the graphics slots the 6-pin power connector for the extra GPU juice rests.
Behind the heatpipe cooling the MOSFETs lies the dual 8-pin ATX power connectors that feed the 12V lines into the CPU.
This collection of LEDs lights up to indicate which power phase the DrMOS and CPU are running in and can act as a sort of load indicator.
The external connectors on the XPower include a pair of legacy PS2 ports, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 2 eSATA ports, dual Gigabit networking connections, a Firewire port and two USB 3.0 ports courtesy of an NEC controller. The small black button next to the PS2 port is a clear CMOS switch and the pin out to the right is for connecting the OC Dashboard.