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Intel has showed off their new Sandy Bridge architecture at this month’s Intel’s Developers Forum (IDF) event. This will bring the graphics core to the CPU die integrated versus as a separate package on the die as is on the current Core i5 and i3 CPUs. The integrated graphics on the Sandy Bridge will be DirectX 10.1 based and have the capability of playing mainstream and casual titles like StarCraft II without losing visual fidelity. Sandy Bridge and AMD’s Fusion platform will change the market by bringing real graphics to integrated solutions sometime next year.
In the meantime Intel has a two-tier strategy for consumer CPUs, one with the 6 core Gulftown core like the Core i7-980X, the Core i7-970 all the way down to the Core i7-930 which offers flexible performance options for an affordable cost while also combined with the X58 chipset to provide triple channel memory and more PCI Express lanes for discrete graphics cards. With the release of SATA 6 Gb/second ports and USB 3.0 on the PC platform, many PC motherboard companies have taken to releasing new versions of their X58 motherboards. MicroStar International is a Tier-1 Motherboard maker in Taiwan that has released a new series of gaming boards called the Big Bang. The Big Bang Fusion was the first board on the market to support Lucid multi-GPU solutions. Today I’m reviewing the MSI XPower Big Bang motherboard, which is the latest board from MSI.