Intel's new P35 "Bearlake" chipset is coming to the market in a big way this Computex which is due to begin early next month. Intel is planing on replacing its P965, 975X and 946 chipsets with these new architecture chipsets. P35 will be the first to market along with onboard graphics G33 (DX9) and G35 (DX10) designed for the value market with X38 due to come out when DDR-3 memory becomes widely available as the high-end chipset with DDR-3 support only and full-speed and faster PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots.
This is our first P35 retail motherboard we have tested and we have only tested a pre-release board in our P35 preview article, which didn't overclock at all due to early silicon. MSI's P35 Platinum is the first motherboard we managed to overclock, it didn't reach the speed P965 has reached but this is real early days for the P35, with chipsets about to go into full production from Intel, we can only hope to see speed increases as the platform matures. Nevertheless, at stock settings, the P35 has a small performance lead over the P965, which is a great sign. Even the new ICH9 Southbridge is able to improve HDD performance a little as well.
MSI's implementation of the P35 chipset is extremely good, with only a few layout problems to speak of. The overall look of the board is extremely creative and uses high quality components such as all solid Japanese capacitors which increase stability and overall lifetime. The cooling design for the heatpipe is not only attractive and stylish but very effective providing great cooling performance. It is the first design we have seen that actually cool the memory voltage regulators on the board in the same cooling solution that does the rest of the primary components.
Overclocking results were impressive for an early series P35 chipset, its early days but MSI's board does show promise, it may not be the high-end monster that we are hoping for but its extra features are quite impressive such as its dual PCI Express x16 slots and future proof support for new 45nm processors from Intel as well as full 1333MHz quad-pumped FSB support.
Besides some poor layout decisions from MSI along with some eSATA controller routing issues, the P35 Platinum is a very good start for Intel's new Bearlake platform and we are happy with what we see. We don't have any official details on pricing as yet but you can expect the board to cost around $250 USD in the United States but that could change - not cheap but reasonably fair.
A little faster than P965 at stock
Two PCI Express x16 slots for dual graphics
Overclocking reasonable but room for improvement
Fancy cooling adds style and lower temperatures
8 channel HD audio with 106dB Signal to Noise ratio
New ICH9R offers slightly better HDD performance
Support for upcoming 45nm processors
Official 1333 FSB processor support
Two eSATA ports
New USB port, better design prevents pen drive blocking
All solid Japanese capacitors for stability and longer life
Two of the ICH9R SATA ports routed to eSATA
Placement of the FDD and 8-pin power ports very bad
Rating - 8.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Best Features Award!