Now we get to the goodies, the board in all its glory. MSI has gone with a dark brown/black PCB in full 30x24cm ATX 6-layer style to keep things interesting. Layout is good with only a couple of exceptions. The 24-pin power connector along with the two IDE ports are located behind the memory slots where they should be. However, the FDD and 8-pin power connector are located on the other side of the board which is going to make a mess of cabling; we would like to see this improved over time, but for now we will not go too hard on MSI.
While Nvidia does not specify heatpipe cooling for the 650i SLI chipset, MSI has taken the initiative and gone for a full MCP to SPP to MOSFET cooling design. The power system for the CPU is a four phase system which is more than enough to power the Core 2 series of CPU, however Pentium 4 Prescott and Ceder Mill cores will find it restrictive when overclocking.
The rear ports on the MSI board are quite good. There are not any serial ports, however a parallel port is still present. MSI has also included an eSATA port which you have to sacrifice one of the SATA ports on the motherboard to use, but it is still nice to have. Gigabit Ethernet is run from the MCP and has all of the Nvidia networking features attached giving you greater control than previous Gigabit LAN controllers.
Lastly we get down to the expansion layout as well as the extra chips that have been thrown on for those little add-ons that the chipset does not come with. As you can see there are two PCI Express x16 slots for SLI. Like the older nForce 4 SLI chipset you need to use an SLI switch paddle in order to select SLI or non-SLI mode. In SLI mode the two PCI Express slots run at x8 speeds, while when in non-SLI mode, the top slot runs at x16 speed and the other one runs at x1 mode. There is a single PCI Express x1 slot and three PCI slots.
The extra chips, or chip rather, that MSI includes is a VIA VT6307S Firewire chip that supports two Firewire ports, one of them is on the rear I/O section and the other is a header on the board.
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