Just one look at the Big Bang XPower and you can see MSI mean business with this board – the build quality is really top notch. The X58 Northbridge and the major power circuitry are cooled by passive heatsinks connected by thicker than normal 8mm heatpipes (MSI claims that the thicker pipes increase thermal efficiency and therefore aid cooling).

MSI's Big Bang XPower is very well laid out with plenty of room around the CPU socket, which allows for some fairly big third party coolers to be fitted – you might need it if you tackle the plethora of overclocking options MSI have given the board.

The six memory slots – remember the X58 is a triple channel memory supporting chipset – have latches only on the far side of the slot so that they don't interfere with the massively cooled graphics card the Big Bang XPower cries out for.

If you were in any doubt that the Big Bang XPower is a power user's board, there are two eight-pin 12V power connectors, which are handily placed near to the board's edge. There's also an edge-mounted block next to the SATA ports, which enables the use of a voltage meter to check the real time voltage going to various components such as the CPU, memory and both chipset bridges.

The base of the board contains a small panel which holds the OC Genie (automatic overclocking) button and four other touch-sensitive areas; Power, Reset and two Direct OC controls.

We liked

A very well put together board, MSI's Big Bang XPower features top notch build quality and a feature list you've come to expect from a motherboard aimed at enthusiasts. The one nice surprise is the price tag.

Okay, at over £250 you need deep pockets and long arms, but this is actually a very good price for a board like this. Some of its competitors will run you well over £300.

We disliked

Despite all the PCI-E slots, the board doesn't support quad SLI, but it does support quad CrossFire.

Verdict

Yes, it's reasonably expensive even though, to its credit, MSI has tried to keep the price down, but it's a basically a niche product for the enthusiast. It could even make the basis of a decent workstation, because you do get an awful lot of motherboard for your money.

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