With the release of the Intel Sandy Bridge-E processors fast approaching, companies are gearing up. Among the first to show off what seems to be finalized versions of their entire board lineup is MSI. While there is no information provided just yet about features and specs, a picture is worth a 1000 words. I will try to keep this shorter than that though.

These boards, from left to right, are the X79A-G65 8D, X79A-G65, X79A-G45, and X79MA-G45. I can tell you from the very uniform naming structure MSI uses, the three larger boards are ATX and the smaller is Micro-ATX. The G45 boards will be lower cost, but will have lower power phasing and slightly fewer features. These are also the entry level to mid-range board options; although, I am sure what will be considered entry level in price for any X79 board will be much higher than other motherboard markets.

As you can see from the picture, there a number of standard features here. First there are at least 6 SATA ports for all boards, even the micro-ATX board which normally is only 4 ports. You’ll also find two USB 3.0 ports on the back panel and a header for two more, one PS2 keyboard/mouse port, and a rear panel clear CMOS button, but not a single PCI slot. I find the move to not include legacy PCI slots, but to keep the PS2 port a little strange. There is also a place to the right of the 24-pin power plug for voltage checks on all boards with the X79A-G65 8D being the most obvious. The X79A-G65 8D also boasts 8 memory slots instead of 4 slots and 8 SATA ports.

While all four of these boards have OC Genie, the larger ATX boards have buttons on the board to use the OC Genie outside of the BIOS. The ATX boards also have a mechanical switch to manual select which of the two BIOS chips you would like to access.  This is usually done automatically by the motherboard as a backup to ensure corruption to the primary BIOS can be corrected. I am not sure what benefit manual selecting would give you, but MSI gave you the option to do just that.

The final bit of eye candy from MSI is their flagship board, the Big Bang. As always, the flagship from MSI takes their best standard motherboard and turns the dial up to 11 for everything. It has all the same ear marks as the X79A-G65 8D, but with some bonuses.

There are 10 SATA ports, two front panel USB 3.0 ports, two LAN ports on the back panel, upgrade to X-Fi 2 audio, an Easy OC button in addition to the OC Genie bus control buttons, LED error indicators, and design that takes its queues from a belt feed chain gun. The Big Bang supports PCIE 3.0 like the G65 8D, but only has full length PCIE slots. There is an switch panel at the bottom of the board that seems to allow manual control over which slots are used for Crossfire/SLI.

The entire lineup from MSI shows a lot of promise from these pictures with the future being kept in mind with PCIE 3.0. This is great for those who are moving to an X79 and Sandy Bridge-E system. I hope to see some written specs and prices for this sexy hard very soon.

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