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MSI P6N SLI Platinum nForce 650i SLI Motherboard Review

MSI P6N SLI Platinum nForce 650i SLI Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
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

Passive Cooling System for Chipsets

A rather innovative copper heatsink dots the MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard. Mounted to the nVidia chipsets and power MOSFET circuitry, the thermal solution conducts heat from the chipsets towards the nothbridge and MOSFET heatsink. There, exhaust airflow from the CPU fan is harnessed to cool each heatsink. This method makes use of an existing air flow source in the PC, doesn't introduce any extra noise into the computer, and concentrates the hot portions of the motherboard right by power supply fan inlet.

The nVIDIA nForce 650i SPP northbridge is cooled with a medium size copper heatsink and the nForce 650i MCP Southbridge with a fairly low profile aluminum block. Most of the heat from both chipsets is conducted to the MOSFET heatsink. The copper MOSFET heatsink works well enough with the exhaust airflow from the CPU heatsink alone, provided it is directed in its general area.

If your PC uses CPU watercooling, there is a good chance the lact of airflow may lead to overheating. For these situations, MSI includes an auxilliary Northbridge fan with the P6N SLI Platinum. The fan screws in place on top of the Northbridge heatsink with two thumb-screws, no tools required.

External SATA Goes Standard

External Serial ATA is a great feature for motherboards, and we're always happy to see this little port on the back of the board. When it comes to external mass storage, bandwidth has always been an issue, and Serial ATA makes even IEEE 1394b's 800Mbps bandwidth look paltry by comparison. The MSI P6N SLI Platinum has a single eSATA port at the rear I/O, and for some odd reason an "L-port" to "I-port" style eSATA cable is tossed in. The "I-port" style is the standard eSATA connection, and the former is what you will find on the back of a SATA hard drive.

Okay, so with this cable we can connect any SATA hard drive to the computer without having to open it up.... but what about power for the hard drive? SATA cables don't supply that, and there is no PCI bracket molex power pass through here. As an adaptor cable it would be handy, if it were a little longer than 18".... but I digress.

In any case, eSATA enclosures for SATA hard drives are widely available, and the great thing is that hard drives connected over this standard are just as fast as internal devices. The connectors are hot swappable, so it makes adding and removing an massive external hard drive about as complex as plugging in a USB memory key. For anyone who as ever had to move Gig's of data over a USB cable, eSATA is simply awesome.

Return of the Physical SLI Switch

nVIDIA's Scalable Link Interface (SLI) technology is used to link two nVIDIA GPU based PCI Express videocard together in a combined rendering mode, yielding enhanced 3D performance. All that's required to do this is a pair of SLI-compatible videocards and an SLI capable nForce chipset. In this case, the MSI P6N SLI Platinum comes packing the nForce 650i SLI core logic.

The nVIDIA nForce 650i SLI solution provides two physical PCI Express x16 video slots, and uses a switch to divert 8 PCI Express data lanes to service the second slot when it is used. The primary PCI Express slot also receives 8 lanes under SLI. The second PCI Express x16 slot can only be used for SLI'ing a second videocard, when just one videocard is installed this second slot does not function.

On nForce 650i SLI series motherboards, the preferred manner of implementing SLI appears to be the physical SLI switch. This is a small card which must be physically switched around to go from 'normal mode' in which the full 16 lanes of PCI-Express are available to a single videocard, and 'SLI mode' in which both videocards receive 8 PCI Express lanes each.

A detailed look at what the nVidia nFroce 650i SLI chipset has to offer is next, but first a quick tour of some of the MSI P6N SLI Platinum's highlights.

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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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