The highlight of this product is of course the presence of six PCI Express x16 slots. Big Bang XPower supports both SLI and CrossFireX modes, and it comes with three SLI bridges (two short ones and one long one) but with only one CrossFireX bridge.
The north bridge of Intel X58 chipset provides 36 PCI Express x1 lanes, while the south bridge (ICH10R) provides six more lanes.
The numbering scheme used on the Big Bang XPower slots is a little bit confusing and you should pay close attention. The PCI Express x16 slots are numbered from PCI_E2 to PCI_E7, counting from the slot that is closest to the available PCI Express x1 slot.
The first (PCI_E2) and fourth (PCI_E5) slots work at x16 all the time. The third (PCI_E4) and fifth (PCI_E6) slots work at x8 all the time. And the second (PCI_E3) and sixth (PCI_E7) slots work at x4 all the time.
So in order to achieve the best performance when using two video cards under SLI or CrossFireX mode you must install your video cards on the first (PCI_E2) and fourth (PCI_E5) slots. This is very hard to remember and you should pay close attention. When installing three video cards, install the third card on the third (PCI_E4) slot. This slot configuration was done so you can install up to three dual-slot video cards without blocking any of the slots that have higher performance. You will only be able to install more than three video cards if at least one of the first three video cards is a single-slot card, because if you install three dual-slot cards all other slots will be blocked.
Also if you decide to install a dual-slot video card on the last PCI Express x16 slot, you will need to use a case with at least eight expansion slots (cases usually have seven) and you will block the OC Genie and other buttons located at the edge of the motherboard near this slot and also the USB headers.
click to enlarge
Figure 2: Slots.
It would be interesting if MSI had used different colors to identify the speed of each PCI Express x16 slot. On the other hand, this would break the harmony of the product.
Besides the six PCI Express x16 slots, this motherboard comes with one PCI Express x1 slot, which is used by the sound card that comes with the product.
MSI Big Bang XPower comes with a six-pin video card power connector (PEG) on the motherboard to provide more current to the video cards installed on the system. The manufacturer doesn’t say when this additional connector must be installed, but we do recommend you to always use it.