Testbed Setup
Overclocking / Benchmark Testbed
Processor Intel i7-980X ES - 3.33GHz, 6 cores, 12 threads. 12MB L3 Cache
Intel i7-980X Retail - 3.33GHz, 6 cores, 12 threads. 12MB L3 Cache
CPU Voltage Various
Cooling Intel air cooler, Heatkiller 3.0 waterblock, 2 x PA120.2 radiators and 2 x DDC ultra pumps (with Petra top) in series, 1/2 ID tubing for watercooling.
Power Supply Corsair HX950, PCP Turbo Cool 1200W
Memory Corsair Dominator GT 8-8-8-24 2200MHz 4GB kit
G.Skill Perfect Storm 8-8-8-24 2200MHz 4GB kit.
Memory Settings Various
Video Cards MSI N275 Lightning
Video Drivers nVidia 197.45 WHQL
Hard Drive Western Digital 7200RPM 1TB SATA 3/Gbps 32MB Buffer
OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD
Optical Drives Plextor PX-B900A, Toshiba SD-H802A
Case Open Test Bed - Dimastech Benching Station
Lian-Li V2110
Operating System Windows 7 64 bit

We utilized memory kits from Corsair and G.Skill to verify memory compatibility on our test boards. Our OS and primary applications are loaded on the OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD drive and our games operate off the WD Caviar Black 1TB drive. We did a clean install of the OS and applications for each motherboard. For graphics duty, MSI’s GTX N275 GPUs are used to provide performance comparisons between boards during gaming benchmarks.

For our test results we set up each board as closely as possible in regards to memory timings, Uncore, QPI frequency and also match up C-state parameters.  The X58 boards utilized 6GB of memory throughout the course of benchmarking compares. Memory timings are set to 7-7-7-20 1T @ DDR3-1333 for the stock benchmarks and 8-8-8-24 1T DDR3-1600 for the 4GHz processor overclock compares.

We’ve recently updated our graphics drivers to nVidia’s WHQL 197.45 so are a little thin on platform compare results. However, there are a few reviews where gaming performance of X58, P55 and AMD platform compares have been made here and here.


Power Consumption

Our power consumption testing utilizes the same batch of components under similar circumstances in a bid to monitor variances between idle and CPU load conditions. We install the vendor supplied power saving utilities on each board and enable power saving modes that don't involve any kind of underclocking or CPU core frequency modulation in order to run an apples to apples comparison.

ATX PSU switching losses are absent from our figures because we monitor power consumption directly at the DC rails of the PSU. These figures measure only the CPU, motherboard, memory and GPU PCIe power draw via the motherboard and exclude any other peripherals, such as cooling fans and hard drives etc. Actual AC power consumption for the motherboard will be anywhere from 15~40% higher than these figures depending upon the efficiency of your power supply and choice of GPU.

Motherboard DC Power Consumption - Idle

Motherboard DC Power Consumption - Linpack

Motherboard DC Power Consumption - HD Video Playback

Unsurprising that the MSI board comes out on top in these tests. Gigabyte’s UD9 fares well in comparison to the ASUS Rampage III Extreme with DES power saving modes engaged (considering it has two NF200 chips in tow). EVGA trails in all tests behind the UD9 for raw efficiency because the Volterra VRM used for CPU Vcore duty operates at a base switching frequency of 800KHz.  

MSI Big Bang-XPower Overclocking Results


View All Comments

  • strikeback03 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    So that people don't go spending their money on them? IMO a review that says "This isn't worthwhile" is more useful than one that says something is. And this is probably a valid question for those still buying X58. Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    good point. Better to have a review that says youre nuts to buy this than say wow this is a great board go get it now then in 4 months a new socket comes out and youre pissed off. I emailed intel and begged them to stop changing their sockets so soon ... I wont get a reply. Reply
  • Juddog - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    They don't show a picture of the setup, but I'm wondering why they didn't mention some of the extra abilities of the MSI board, such as the two 8 pin power inputs, the dip switches for voltage limiters, etc..

    I have the board myself and didn't notice the memory issues listed in the article, so I'm just wondering if they could go into more detail about testing methodologies in this regard.
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link


    All of these boards have two power plugs - they are of no consequence unless you are pulling well over spec via the EPS 12V, which rules out the air/water cooling stuff. For the cascade cooled benchmarking we used our 1200w Turbo Cool which has two EPS 12V plugs - made no difference to any board for overclocking margin.

    As for the memory testing detail leading to the discovery of high VTT etc: All memory sub-timings were tried both at vendor defaults (apart from the very loose B2B CAS delay MSI default to - spacing back to back reads by 13~14 clocks, which is terrible for performance) and also matched to a looser set at which all other boards passed the stress testing. RTL parameters were adjusted from base to see if it helped the MSI board. Unfortuantely, nothing worked, and that's on two boards. The issues have been reported back to MSI and they are aware. If you head over to XS forums and HWbot you will see others reporting similar issues – we are not alone.

  • Juddog - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Good response, thank you. :)

    Question - did it make a big difference on the MSI board using the black memory slots versus the blues?
  • Rajinder Gill - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    You cannot use the blue slots without populating the black - IMC limitation.

  • Juddog - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Is it ok for me to link the thread at HWBOT?

    Like you said, it appears that only some have this issue where others do not, very strange indeed. Some people in that thread mention your exact same issue, one of the replies states they replaced the motherboard for another and the new one didn't have the issue, very strange. Thanks again for the good work.
  • dia - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Juddog. You must be a re-seller, how can anyone that has the board not know about X58 and memory slot use? Reply
  • zero2dash - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    The only board I'd consider spending this type of megabucks on would be the (EVGA Classified) SR-2 and that would be just because I've really gotten into Folding@home over the last year.

    If I didn't already put together 2 X58/i7 systems, I'd get an SR-2 today.
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    I can't see why I'd dump my Gigabyte EP-45 UD3P, 8GB of RAM, and Q9650 clocked at 3.6GHz for all of this when Sandy Bridge is just around the corner, which won't even use Socket 1156 or 1366.

    My rig performs somewhere between an i5-750 and an i7-920. I still can't believe how insane Socket 1366 boards are compared to previous-generation equipment.

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