The first thing to say about the MSI Big Bang Marshal is that it is not the motherboard for everyone.
It's a quite specialist board with very specific functions, and to be honest your average PC user is not going to have any use for a great deal of the gubbins you're paying for with the Marshal.
That said, if you want a motherboard that will wring every last drop of performance out of your brand new Intel 2nd Gen Core CPU then MSI's Marshall P67 board should be the one to go for.
Likewise if you're after multi-GPU joy to make the most of your chunky high resolution monitor then look no further than this board.
The Big Bang Marshal's only real predator though, the Asus Republic of Gamers Maximus IV Extreme, has got some technical cojones too.
It's another pricey ol' board, but has been the fastest P67 board we've tested.
And it still remains the case.
At stock speeds the Asus board outperforms the MSI Big Bang Marshal on all fronts. And it does so by a fair way too.
Where the MSI board looks to have the edge though is in the serious overclocking stakes. We managed to surpass the mythical 5GHz mark, actually getting stable performance at 5.2GHz.
Now that almost 2GHz overclock should make the Big Bang Marshal completely untouchable compared to the Asus board. We could only get the Maximus IV Extreme up to 4.6GHz after all.
So the MSI wins then?
Well, the 5.2GHz clockspeed isn't the final word on it. The Intel i7 2600K we used to test with was capable of running at that speed, but when seriously stressed the chip clocked itself down.
On our video encoding test, with X264 v3, we monitored the clockspeed dropping all the way down to 4.3GHz. With the Asus RoG running at a solid 4.6GHz it posts significantly superior numbers.
In gaming terms though the overclock does remain fairly consistant, so if that's all you're using it for then the hefty 5.2GHz clockspeed will make a difference.
At stock speed the Asus is faster, but the Big Bang Marshal takes the lead with the OC in place.
So in gaming terms the Big Bang Marshal takes the win, and that's borne out if you're looking at multi-GPU gaming.
Sure the Maximus IV Extreme also has full SLI and CrossFire compatibility, but it doesn't have the wealth of configuration options the MSI Big Bang Marshal does. Of course, they're both capable of running dual-cards on x16 PCIe slots, but the extra width of the MSI board means the cards aren't sitting on top of each other as they are with the Asus.
That could lead to some hot ol' cards and poor airflow too.
Overall then, in terms of the money-no-object P67 motherboard, it's tough to look past the Maximus IV Extreme. The Big Bang Marshal does have its place and, as the wealth of PCIe slots ought to suggest, that place is within the limited niche of the multi-GPU crowd.
Though that's a niche which is surely going to grow, and at the high-end the MSI Big Bang Marshal will get the most out of your twin graphics card array.
The fact the board is so much wider in order to pack in those eight PCIe slots means that with a couple of cards in SLI or CrossFire there's still enough space for decent airflow.
This is also the first board we've had in the office that would happily boot and run at over 5GHz.
Unfortunately that overclock, though rock-solid, will clock itself down when the CPU is being seriously stressed. That affects the benchmark scores, though seems to leave the gaming side free to run.
A great multi-GPU board, though despite incredible OC scores can't best the competing Asus mobo in straight performance terms.