MSI XPower mainboard turned out too complex to be given a definite characterization. This is a many-sided product, but not all of its sides are brilliant, unfortunately. To cut the long story short, the board comes in high-quality packaging, is accompanied by an outstanding set of accessories, has very smart and convenient layout and extensive functionality, MSI Control Center utility is useless, the board is extraordinarily energy-efficient in nominal mode and inexcusably wasteful during overclocking. Since these characteristics are the opposites of one another, it is very difficult to determine the proper positioning for this mainboard. We would really like to recommend this mainboard to all users who do not wish to overclock, because its power consumption in nominal mode is significantly lower than that of other LGA1366 mainboards. Unfortunately, very few will actually follow this recommendation, because it is a flagship product with a pretty high price point, and it should be fairly easy to find a decent board for half the price, if you do not have any special requirements. Then we should focus more on its most remarkable feature – six slots for graphics cards. However, 20 W in power savings provided by MSI XPower compared with other mainboards will be totally lost against all the power consumed by a couple of contemporary graphics accelerators.
You can use this mainboard for overclocking, but it will suit best for one-time overclocking demonstrations and setting overclocking records with further return to nominal mode. This board is not fit for permanent use in overclocked mode, because in this case its power-saving technologies get disabled, it loses all its advantages and will even consume more than other mainboards in idle mode. It is a known fact that our computers can perform most of their everyday tasks in power-saving mode at a lower processor core voltage and lower frequency, but MSI XPower mainboard will be wasting power instead. And it is not that much about the money ($50 more a year is not a big deal after all), but mostly about the environment. Since there is an enormous number of computers out there, every wasted or saved watt of power adds up to a gigantic loss or gain, which inevitable affects the environment.
Speaking about the mainboards power consumption in general, we can conclude that things start improving. It is no secret that mainboard makers watch one another very closely and introduce their own versions of handy functions and technologies. MSI XPower has all power-saving technologies working by default without any user interference necessary. Buy we have already seen new Asus boards, too, which have all advanced power-saving technologies in place and Intel Turbo Boost enabled to the full extent.
MSI has been making mainboards with DrMOS technology for years, but Gigabyte mainboards have also recently started sporting similar chips (when a pair of transistors and a control chip are combined within the same packaging) in their processor voltage regulator circuitries. So, it is highly likely that other manufacturers’ mainboards may soon start offering the same excellent power consumption as MSI XPower in does in the nominal mode today. However, it’s been over a year since we last saw an MSI mainboard that allowed adding more voltage to the nominal without affecting processor power-saving technologies. All other mainboards, including the latest ones based on Intel’s sixth generation chipset series, do not support this feature. Just like MSI XPower, they can’t maintain the nominal processor Vcore and set it excessively high during automatic overclocking. And if we lock the core voltage at a certain value, it will remain constant all the time and won’t get lower in idle mode. As a result, MSI mainboards won’t be a reasonable choice for CPU overclocking, because they are less economical and waste power. Will they ever fix that? We’ll see…