How do you make a high end motherboard stand out from
the competition? Easy, start integrating even higher quality components onto it.
For instance a manufacturer can integrate a PCI-based Gigabit network card or go
with a PCI Express based network card. One route potentially creates
bus/bandwidth problems while the other (albeit more expensive) gives the network
card its own dedicated pipeline.
Computer has taken the next step and is starting to integrate its
motherboards with higher quality hardware based Creative Audigy sound cards.
While the average software solution is okay for audio and simple office tasks,
many gamers simply need something better. Whether it's to free up system
resources, or tackle that latest audio gaming technology, getting a new
sound card is often near the top of things to do.
The MSI K9N Diamond motherboard is one of the more
attractive nVIDIA nForce 590 SLI motherboards on the market. It's got everything
the other boards have, and really shines with its Creative Labs
SoundBlaster Audigy SE onto the PCB. Other hardware goodies include dual Gigabit
network cards and IEEE 1394a. Expansion is possible through the two PCI Express
x16, two PCI Express x1 and two 32 bit PCI slots. nVidia SLi is supported.
The MSI K9N Diamond motherboard itself is a breeze to
work with, and we particularly like the Clear CMOS button. It would have
been nice to have an eSATA port at the rear I/O, but none are provided (nor
a eSATA bracket for that matter!). MSI has always built fast motherboards and
the K9N Diamond is no exception.
It had no problems keeping up with boards like the
Asus M2-CROSSHAIR or Foxconn C51XEM2AA in tests like SYSMark2004, 3DMark05 or
Quake 4. The MSI K9N Diamond is so quick that it would often fight for top spot
overall, of course the difference between all Socket AM2 motherboards is sliver
thin... due to the excellent consistency of all chipsets.
The MSI K9N Diamond also has a pretty sweet wild side,
overclocking to a blistering 325 MHz in our tests. MSI is a fan favorite
here and for good reasons. Its motherboards continually impress in terms of
features, performance and price. The K9N Diamond tested here today retails for
$200 CDN ($175 US, £94 GBP). Considering all the K9N Diamond has and can do,
that's a steal.
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