PCMark Vantage re-visited
There are times when new things are not always better things. When we received our sample of the MSI Big Bang X58 Xpower motherboard we also received a burned DVD with drivers on it. There was no retail driver installation DVD. It turns out that these drivers were not full release versions. In fact, the Intel INF driver was not even available on Intel's website. The current version there is 18.104.22.1689, whilst the version on the disk was 22.214.171.1247.
This version caused some pretty big troubles for us during our testing. It turns out the 126.96.36.1997 drivers do not like PCMark at all. As you read in our original PCMark Vantage test results, we saw simply awful scores on this one test. The rest of the tests were pretty much right on the money.
After working with MSI for the better part of a week and trying two brand new BIOS files, we finally started playing with drivers. We uninstalled and reinstalled the USB 3.0 drivers, the Marvell drivers, the audio drivers and then we attacked the INF.
When we went to reinstall them we found that the version numbers were way off. This was not what we expected; after all, the installation utility looked like the final version and everything else worked. On a whim we let the installer overwrite the newer files with the older ones from MSI's website and to our great surprise the scores suddenly fell where they were supposed to.
So, for now we can show you that the MSI Big Bang Xpower can run PCMark Vantage. It is not as fast as the ASUS board at stock speeds (for PCMark), but it is certainly very agile and gives us good results. We also saw when using the proper retail drivers it fixed the issues we had with USB 3.0. So the moral in this story; never assume the disk sent to you has the right drivers. Check and double check!
As you can see, it made a rather big difference and proved our initial feeling that the PCMark performance issue was something simple. We ran all of the other tests at stock speeds and they were within 3% of the original scores. We cannot tell you why this newer driver did not like PCMark Vantage, but it didn't and we can say that if you pick up one of these boards retail you will not have this issue, as the driver included with the retail drivers DVD is the 188.8.131.529 that is on Intel's and MSI's website.