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MSI P6N SLI Platinum nForce 650i SLI Motherboard Review

MSI P6N SLI Platinum nForce 650i SLI Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: The MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard is a good mainstream motherboard for part time tweakers, full time gamers, or for anyone who wants a fully featured board without too steep a price tag.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Mar 21 2007   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI P6N SLI Platinum

The MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard is a good mainstream motherboard for part time tweakers, full time gamers, or for anyone who wants a fully featured board without too steep a price tag. The P6N SLI Platinum boasts a unique silent chipset cooling system, an eSATA port for external hard drives to connect to, and a full compliment of solid state capacitors. Even your friendly neighbourhood PCSTATS techies have suffered at the hands of blown and leaking electrolytic capacitors.

With a modest compliment of accessories, and all the major must have's checked off, we're mostly interested in seeing how the nVidia nForce 650i SLI chipset handles. Follow along as PCSTATS asks the question; is the P6N SLI Platingum going to be a good alternative to expensive 680i SLI platforms? How will the 650i SLI overclock, run games, and deal with office applications? All good questions for sure, so let's begin.

Built with the workhorse nVidia nForce 650i SLI SPP and nVidia nForce 650i MCP chipsets (nForce 430i according to MSI), the MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard is compatible with all Socket 775 processors on the market; Celeron D, Pentium 4/D/XE and Intel Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Quad. It supports processors that operate on a 1333*/1066/800/533MHz FSB (*when the higher FSB processors are available), and accomodates up to 8GB of DDR2-800/667/533 memory in a dual channel configuration. The bare minimum for Microsoft Windows Vista to run smoothly is 1GB, but PCSTATS recommends starting off with at least 2GB RAM.

Standard equipment includes a PCI Express based Gigabit network connection (Marvell 8056), two IEEE 1394a Firewire ports and a 7.1 channel High Definition Azalia certified audio controller. There are four 3GB/s SATA channels in total (RAID 0/1/0+1/5 supported) and two IDE channels. An additional eSATA port at the rear of the board comes via a SIL3531 chipset. Expansion is possible via two PCI Express x16 slots for graphics cards (when running SLI, both PCI Express x16 slots get 8 lanes each), while high bandwidth devices can be installed into a PCI Express x1 slot. It is important to note that the second PCI Express x16 slot is only used for a second graphics card running in SLI mode, according to MSI. There are three 32-bit PCI slots for legacy devices. The MSI Dual CoreCell chipset adds onto all of this with a few dedicated temperature monitoring capabilities, and assists in overclocking.

The nVidia nForce 650i SLI chipset is compatible with nVidia's Scalable Link Interface (SLI) so you can run two Geforce videocards for dual 3D game rendering. Since the 650i SLI isn't quite as powerful as the 680i, the videocards are capped off at 8 PCI Express lanes per card.With a retail price of $200 CDN ($171 US, £87 GBP) the MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard offers a good set of mainstream-to-performance features.

MSI P6N SLI Platinum Motherboard

Includes:

User's Manual, Driver CD, Quick Installation Guide, Rounded Ultra/133 IDE Cable, Rounded Floppy Cable, 4x Serial ATA Cables, eSATA Cable, 2x Molex to Serial ATA Power Cable, Northbridge Fan, SLI Bridge, SLI Bridge Retention Bracket, USB Bracket, IEEE 1394 Bracket

Of note at the rear I/O panel are four USB2.0 headers, six jack-sensing audio jacks, coaxial/optical audio outputs and one FireWire port. There is one eSATA port here, though more than enough space for a second. A set of USB and Firewire PCI brackets are included. There are three USB2.0 headers waiting to be used, and one additional IEEE1394a header.

The motherboard layout is good on the whole, the EPS 12V power connector is in a bit of tight spot but that's about it. A physical CMOS reset button is a nice touch, and it certainly makes overclocking this board a smoother process. Looking elsewhere, the main 24 pin ATX and two IDE connectors are all located to the right of the DIMM slots which keeps those cables out of the way. The lone FDD connector is right at the base of the board, out of the way but difficult to reach when all the front panel connectors are hooked up.

If you plan on running a high end Intel Core 2 Duo CPU on this platform, we'd advise you to upgrade your power supply to an ATX2.0 compatible model with an ESP12V connector. The MSI P6N SLI Platinum will work with 20-pin power supplies , but older units are not designed to handle the power requirements of modern computers with multiple videocards. A compatible power supply is definitely required if you plan on running a dual videocard setup, one with at least 30A+ capacity on the 12V line to be specific. This Corsair HX620W PSU is a good option.

The user manual is well written, providing novice users with enough guidance to make it through hardware installation. MSI also provide a poster sized quick installation guide to get you started on the right path.

Solid Capacitors in place of the Electrolytic variety

Microstar Computer, the manufacturer of the P6N SLI Platinum, has chosen to equip this motherboard entirely with solid state capacitors as opposed to the electrolytic variety.

A few years back there was a huge problem with motherboards that were suffering from burst and leaking electrolytic capacitors . This industry-wide event blossomed into a full blown epidemic, and almost single handily dragged ABIT's name through the mud. The general consensus was that ABIT boards were most affected at the time.

The MSI P6N SLI Platinum uses conductive polymer aluminum solid capacitors of the kind pictured at left. These are the same type of capacitors mostly found on videocards, or in the CPU's power supply circuitry. The gist of the situation is that MSI have produced a motherboard with only this kind of capacitor, because it improves overall stability of the motherboard as the years roll by.

Being a solid-state device, the physical conditions which caused poor quality electrolytic capacitors to burst after 3 years are a non-issue. If you'd like to read up on the back story that led to the whole problem of burst and leaking caps, have a look at thisPCSTATS article. It's actually a rather complicated story of industrial espionage...

Next up, PCSTATS investigates MSI's totally silent chipset cooling system on the P6N SLI Platinum...

© 2014 PCSTATS.com Next Page >

 

Contents of Article: MSI P6N SLI Platinum
 Pg 1.  — MSI P6N SLI Platinum nForce 650i SLI Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Passive Cooling System for Chipsets
 Pg 3.  MSI P6N SLI Platinum Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 4.  The nVidia nForce 650i SLI chipset
 Pg 5.  Overclocking the MSI P6N SLI Platinum Motherboard
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Sysmark 2004
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Graphics)
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Office)
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PC Worldbench (Data Crunching)
 Pg 10.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, SuperPi, PCMark05
 Pg 11.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 12.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3
 Pg 13.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Quake 4 / Conclusions

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