Package and Contents
The MSI P35 Diamond motherboard comes in a standard height box. Where the likes of ASUS and GIGABYTE are using double sized monster boxes, MSI has gone it in a smaller box; but don't be fooled, there is enough stuff in the box to keep you happy. The front as most boxes go just shows the company logo, model number and some basic logos showing what the board supports.
The back is a bit of a disappointment; we would like to have seen a large colour photo of the board so you can get an idea of what you're in for with your money. Unfortunately MSI has let us down here.
MSI's Driver CD in the P35 Diamond package in a single disc that contains both XP and Vista 32-bit and 64-bit drivers along with the Cell Menu software for both. No Linux drivers are supplied with the board so if you're an alternative OS user you're going to have to search for drivers.
Cable wise MSI has done quite well. Out of the five internal SATA ports you get four included in the box which isn't so bad when you look at some boards that have less than half the required amount included. As far as power splitters go you only get one Molex to SATA power converter, so if you want to run four or more SATA drives you will need to have a PSU with at least 3 to 4 SATA power plugs. The ribbon cables included are a FDD with single drive support and an IDE with two-drive support.
For the audiophile, MSI has come to the rescue. Azalia HD audio is better than the old AC'97 codec, that is for sure; but Azalia is still driven by software off the CPU, and that takes power away from the CPU to do its tasks. If you're doing real CPU intensive tasks you can notice some audio distortion.
To this end the P35 Diamond is shipped with a PCI Express x1 Sound Blaster X-Fi audio card. This is the exact same card that Creative sells as their X-Fi audio PCI Express card.
Lastly, on the accessories bundle is a Skytel VoIP card that MSI supplies. This plugs into the motherboard by a ribbon cable on the card and allows you to have a VoIP setup on the Diamond series motherboard.