The X58 Defender
Looking through our broad range of X58 motherboard samples, the closest “fair fight” match was MSI’s Big Bang-XPower.
With 36 total PCIe 2.0 lanes, the X58 chipset supports the same graphics card configurations as the P55+NF200 competition, but without the need for PCIe bridges. MSI divides 32 lanes across two primary PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, and further divides those pathways to remaining slots, allowing an exact x16-x8-x8 match to the P55+NF200 combo in today’s comparison.
The Big Bang-XPower has fewer USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s ports than today’s P55 competitor, but the tradeoff is advanced overclocking features that include a beefier voltage regulator. That higher-capacity voltage regulator will help to keep the higher-current CPU we’re using today stable at the same 4 GHz overclocked CPU frequency.
While both systems benefit from the same 4 GHz CPU clock, DDR3-1600 memory rate, and CAS 7-7-7-21 timings, the X58’s triple-channel memory controller increases the amount of installed memory to 6 GB using the same 2 GB modules. This is still a fair comparison however, since our games show no noticeable benefit from the increased capacity and bandwidth.
Not seen in the benchmarks is the additional power required to run the older Core i7-920 at 4 GHz, with higher voltage levels that are required to keep it stable at that frequency.
Additional information about the Big Bang-XPower can be found in its full review.