Being an early sample, we didn't get the full retail packaging this time around, just the board for testing. While early, it's the retail board that will be available on the shelves. So we start off today just on the board itself.
MSI goes for a full ATX layout as you would expect, and with a black/brown coloured base. For its layout, MSI has followed the market trend; the 24-pin power connector along with the FDD connector are snugly placed away, behind the DDR2 memory slots on the right hand side of the board. The 4/8 pin power connector gets placed behind the PS/2 ports on the upper left side of the board. The IDE connector and the SATA ports are located along the right hand edge of the board, just below the memory slots. The six SATA ports controlled by the ICH10R are stacked 2x2 and are rotated 90 degrees to the board, this allowing you to get the use of all the SATA ports. The other two are setup as normal.
Moving to the CPU, MSI has a slightly cramped setup around this area. While it's not impossible to get larger heatsinks on the board, the heatpipes don't really help much in this regard. MSI's Circu-pipe II is a linked cooling system that cools the Southbridge, Northbridge and the two Mosfets banks. To feed the CPU its power, a 5 phase voltage regulation system featuring MSI's new power saving technology called "DrMOS" is used. This we will be testing in a later article, but it's nice to know the technology is there to be used.
MSI's rear I/O ports are setup identically to the most recent Platinum boards, so if you are upgrading from a MSI Platinum board, you won't need to change the I/O shield. The most notable features on the back include a CMOS reset button, this allowing you to reset the CMOS in the event of a bad overclock without opening the case. eSATA is also included on the back and is routed off the JMicron SATA controller that gives the PATA port to the board.
Now we come down to the last features of the board, its expansion slots and the additional accessories packed on. MSI packs the board with a good assortment of expansion slots. First off, for graphics cards you get two PCI Express x16 slots supporting PCI-E 2.0 specifications; one is coloured dark blue and a second coloured light blue.
If you're not going to be running a dual graphics card setup, you need to place the graphics card into the dark blue slot which gives it the full 16 lanes. If you plan on a dual GPU setup, the second slot gets a card, but when a card is installed into it, eight lanes from the dark blue slot are routed to the light blue slot to give a dual x8 setup on the board.
Next to round up the PCI Express expansion, there are two PCI Express x1 slots routed from the ICH10R Southbridge along with two PCI legacy slots also coming off the ICH10R.
In the accessories department, a JMicron PATA/SATA controller chip gives the board its IDE port along with two light blue SATA ports and the eSATA port. Since the JMB363 chipset only supports two SATA ports, if you plan to use the eSATA port you're going to have to give up one of the light blue SATA ports.
For the Gigabit Ethernet, Realtek's 8118C PCI Express LAN controller is included. Lastly, for the FireWire support a Texas Instruments PCI based Firewire chip also makes its presence.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications]
- Page 3 [The Motherboard]
- Page 4 [BIOS and Overclocking]
- Page 5 [Test System Setup and Memory Performance]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - SYSmark 2007 Preview]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - HDD Performance]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Crysis]
- Page 12 [Power Consumption and Heat Generation Tests]
- Page 13 [Final Thoughts]
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