The MSI K8N Diamond Plus is a
large ATX motherboard (30.4 x 24.4 cm) and mounts into any desktop case with
nine screws. The board is well labeled and novice computer builders won't have a hard time
navigating between the abundant supply of internal firewire, USB2.0,
and SATA headers during a system install.
especially appreciate the presence of an actual Clear CMOS
button right next to the motherboard's battery.
This is a minor point, but it's nice how MSI includes FDD driver diskettes with its motherboard. Nothing is more frustrating than installing a system only to realize that the driver diskette (for the nVIDIA RAID or Silicon Image SATA II controller) has not been prepared. Also sometimes a second PC is not available to make the driver diskette which leaves users stuck without any other solution.
Next up, we take a look at that fancy heatpipe based cooling system and the new nVidia nForce4 SLI x16 chipset...
Meet The nForce4 SLI x16 Chipset
The nVIDIA nForce4 SLI and nForce4 SLI x16 chipsets are very similar, with
a few significant differences. First the nForce4 SLI x16 is a combination of
two chipsets, an nForce4 SLI Southbridge and the 'C51D' Northbridge. The AMD version
of the nForce4 SLI x16 supports up to 38 PCI Express lanes, so it
has pretty much doubled what the old nForce4 SLI supported (20 PCI Express lanes).
The Intel nForce4 SLI x16 has a couple more, for a total of 40 PCI Express
This obviously mean that when running two nVIDIA PCI Express videocards in SLI, both will have access to a full 16 PCI Express lanes each. A dedicated 16 PCI express lanes does not make much of a difference right now, but future videocards that require more PCI Express bandwidth will benefit by it.
The rest of the nVIDIA nForce4 SLI x16 features remain the same as with the older chipset. Listed among those
features are support for four IDE devices, and four Serial ATA II devices
with RAID modes 0, 1, 0+1 or RAID 5. There is also nVIDIA's hardware
firewall as well as a direct connection to the Southbridge for a Gigabit network
card and the ability to tune performance via nVIDIA's nTune.