The Big Bang X58 XPower is an nice looking board. MSI has opted for the dark metallic look for items that would normally be chrome. As usual, it follows the ATX form factor with a few minor exceptions.
One of the big exceptions that we will talk about later are the six full x16 PCIe slots you see.
But before we get into all of that, we need to look at a few very interesting items that are showing up near the CPU and memory slots. You will notice that the usual capacitors that clutter this area are gone. They have been replaced with Hi-C Caps. These are capacitors that have a titanium core in them. This allows for higher conductivity. They have a higher thermal envelope which results in a longer life.
Another departure from the usual ATX form factor is the inclusion of an extra 8-pin 12V aux power connector and also a 6-pin connector. These help to provide stable power to components that need them during both normal and overclocked usage.
As we mentioned above, there are six x16 PCIe slots on the Big Bang XPower. However, as usual not all are fully x16. Of the six that are on the board, the first and fourth are full x16, the third and fifth are x8 and the second and sixth are x4. Sort of confusing really, but I guess in the end it all works out.
Drawing our eyes away from the six PCIe x16 (mechanical) slots on the board, we do see some very nice features on the other side. One of these we talked about in passing earlier. This is the voltage monitoring point. It is the big blue block near the SATA ports; here you can check the actual voltage going through the board with a multi-meter instead of using a (usually inaccurate) software app that reads data from the BIOS.
You can also see the SATA 3.0 ports. These are the two white ports that are not at a 90 degree angle. You can set these up in RAID in the BIOS if you are into that sort of thing.
You can also see a set of four dipswitches. These are the V Switch controls. They allow you to extend the voltage range available in the BIOS for overclocking. These are right next to a pair of diagnostic LEDs.
When I first saw this area I actually thought that MSI had left the power, reset and clock adjustment buttons off. But after looking closely I realized they are still there, they are just contact closure switches at the board level. You can actually see the contacts that your finger will close to complete the circuit and activate the switch. It is a pretty neat idea, but I worry about other items contacting these that might be conductive enough to activate them when in a case.
This shot I threw in because it is a nice image and shows in a very graphical way the 16-power phases available for the CPU.
Ah, the I/O ports. Here we find what are becoming the standard ports for an ATX motherboard. You have USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, e-SATA, Powered E-SATA and audio. There is another port and button that are important, though. The port is for the OC Dashboard while the button is to clear CMOS.
The Big Bang X58 XPower is a nice board. Although it is a little cramped, the layout is not too bad. There has obviously been some thought put into this design. The little details spell this out quite clearly. We hope that this attention to detail and hard work play out in the testing that we get to shortly.