Overclocking and Testing Setup
Overclocking testing a motherboard like the XPower requires a bit more work than your standard motherboard because there is so many different settings you play with, tweak and test against.  For our results we took the XPower motherboard, used the latest 1201 BIOS from the MSI website and started to town with the Intel Core i7-980X 6-core processor in tow.

We are going take the easy way out first – testing the MSI OC Genie feature that does a good job of offering basic overclocking automatically for beginning, or lazy, users.  I like that.  But we’ll also spend some time playing with the base clocks, multipliers and voltages on our own and see how far we can take the 980X processor with the board.

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Idle speeds of the i7-980X

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Under default settings, running a single threaded application, the 3.33 GHz Core i7-980X runs at 3.6 GHz.

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Using an application that pushes all 6 cores / 12 threads, the CPU runs at 3.46 GHz thanks to Turbo Boost.

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The OC Genie overclocking result

After hitting the OC Genie button on the motherboard then turning on the system, we found our 3.33 GHz Core i7-980X running at a 4.125 GHz clock speed.  The base clock had been bumped to 133 MHz to 187 MHz while the multiplier had been moved from the 25x top setting to 22x.  That overclock is a 23% increase in clock speed over the base speed and is even a 15% increase over the top Turbo Boost speed that the default settings provide. 

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OC Genie overclocking result on our memory

Not only did the default clock speed of the CPU increase but the MSI OC Genie also pushed our memory up from 1333 MHz to 1500 MHz – a relatively minor overclock considering the Corsair Dominator’s headroom. 

Now, let’s take a look at what overclocking results I was able to get when going into the BIOS and tweaking things manually.  Obviously we should expect to see better results than what the OC Genie could do – surely we humans have to have some edges over the computers for a little bit longer.

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Yah, that’s pretty impressive!  This is easily the furthest our sample Core i7-980X 6-core processor has gotten and hitting over 4.5 GHz is a sweet increase in total system performance.  With this result, the 6-core CPU is running at a 35% frequency premium and that should equate to straight benchmark results and increased performance. 

Obviously the MSI Big Bang XPower motherboard delivers on its promise to provide great overclocking results as we have seen here and I was actually really impressed with the results that the OC Genie software provided – getting an 825 MHz clock speed boost for just hitting a button and booting your system is a definite plus and the fact that you don’t have to worry about reboot your system, installing software, etc is another benefit. 

Testing Setup

For our benchmarking, rather than simply rehashing benchmark results from the Core i7-980X review (which is what motherboard reviews have really become in terms of stock clock speed performance results) I decided to include results from the MSI XPower motherboard with the OC Genie overclock enabled.  That means the results for the XPower motherboards are definitely going to be higher than the stock i7-980X but because we got these speeds by simply pushing a button, it seemed like a fair shift.  But please, PLEASE do not email me saying it is not a fair comparison to bit an overclocked XPower motherboard against a stock motherboard.  I get it.

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*MSI XPower tested at 4.125 GHz via OC Genie overclocking

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MSI XPower motherboard results tested on the MSI XPower motherboard.  😉

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