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MSI P35 Platinum Intel P35 Express Motherboard Review

MSI P35 Platinum Intel P35 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Along with the Intel P35 Express Northbridge is a revised Southbridge chipset called the Intel ICH9. Between the previous Intel ICH8 Southbridge and the new Intel ICH9 are some slight upgrades and extra ports.
 84% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Computer Jul 09 2007   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI Computer P35 Platinum

Introducing the Intel P35 Express and ICH9 Chipsets

The Intel P35 Express Northbridge chipset replaces the P965 Express as Intel's mainstream performance core logic part. The P35 Express not only supports all current Socket 775 processors running on a 533/800/1066 MHz Front Side bus, it also supports Intel's 45nm "Penryn" processor and 1333 MHz FSB. The P35 Express ships with the ICH9 series of Southbridge chipsets.

The southbridge used with the MSI P35 Platinum motherboard is the ICH9R model, it supports RAID via Intel's Matrix storage technology.

Intel quad core processors to set to be the mainstream CPU by mid-2008, so motherboard chipsets have to keep up with the demands of the hungry CPU. An increased Front Side Bus, from 1066MHz to 1333 MHz speeds up data communication to the necessary levels. Intel also modified the memory controller, boosting DDR2 memory to 1066 MHz from 800 MHz. That increases maximum theoretical bandwidth to 16GB/s (in a dual channel configuration).

These changes are largely incremental, the most significant improvement in the P35 Express chipset has been the inclusion of DDR3 RAM support. Initial DDR3 memory modules from Crucial, Corsair and OCZ will be pegged at 800 and 1066 MHz speeds, as the standard matures it's will go to 1333MHz. The Intel P35 Express supports a maximum of 8GB of non ECC unbuffered memory, either DDR3 or DDR2, depending on what the manufacturer has chosen to implement.

Here's a quick look at how the new P35 stacks up to the P965 Express and 975X chipsets. Apart from the speed increases and new memory standard, there are a few extra ports here and there.

Intel P35 & 975 / 965 Series Chipset Feature Breakdown
Intel 975X Express Intel P35 Express Express Intel P965 Express Intel G965 Express
CPU LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo
Front Side Bus (FSB) 1066/800 MHz 1333/1066/800 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz
Intel Flex Memory Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dual Channel Memory Support DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 667
Maximum Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Integrated Graphics - - - GMA 3000
PCI Express x16 2 1 1 1
PCI Express x1 4 6 4 4
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 4/1 6/0 6/0 6/0
SATA Speed 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R)
Hard Drive NCQ - Yes Yes Yes
USB 2.0 Ports 8 12 8 10
PCI Masters 6 6 6 6
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia)

By default the Intel P35 Express chipset only supports a single PCI Express x16 slot for videocards however most boards like the MSI P35 Platinum has two physical slots. There are six PCI Express lanes associated with the ICH9R Southbridge and four of them can be used for a secondary graphics card, thus the second PCI Express x16 slot. It's not as ideal a solution as two videocards receiving a full 16 or 8 PCI Express lanes each but it works and allows the Intel P35 Express to support AMD CrossFire. It's been said that Intel tweaked the P35 Express to support CrossFire more efficiently than with the P965.

Let's have a quick look at the Intel G35 while we're at it.

Adding in Graphics: Intel P35 Express and G35

Between the Intel P35 Express Express Northbridge and ICH9R Southbridge is a dedicated 2GB/s I/O bus. This might be a little tight if you have many high bandwidth devices installed, but should suffice for the average user. The MSI P35 Platinum motherboard comes installed with the ICH9R Southbridge which includes a ton of features.

There are six 3GB/s Serial ATA II channels (which support RAID modes 0, 1, 5 and 10) as well a 7.1 channel Intel Azalia high definition audio, 12 USB 2.0 ports in total (split between headers and the I/O slot), six PCI Express x1 lanes, and an integrated Intel GigABIT MAC that runs through the PCI Express bus specific to this chipset.

Noticeably lacking from the chipset is parallel IDE support. In this case, MSI rely upon a stand alone IDE controller. Without this there would be no way to hook up a DVD-ROM or similar optical drive. A block chart of the Intel P35 Express Express chipset's major features is illustrated above.

Onboard Video with the Intel G35 Express

Even though the MSI P35 Platinum motherboard is equipped with the Intel P35 Express, we're going to talk briefly on Intel's new onboard graphics chipset. It contains Intel's X3500 Graphics Media Accelerator, which is DirectX 10 compliant and supports technology like Shader Model 4.0. Of course considering how radical the DirectX 10 standard is, you'll be happy to hear that the X3500 GMA is also backwards compatible with DirectX 9.0C.

The Intel X3500 GMA accomodates Blu-Ray and HD-DVD playback as well as MPEG2 and VC1 acceleration. The chipset integrates HDCP and supports HDMI, DVI and analog video outputs, of course it's up to manufacturers discretion to implement. The Intel G35 is expected to compete directly against AMD's 690G and nVIDIA's GeForce 7000 series integrated platforms.

Finally some time to check out the highlights of MSI's P35 Platinum motherboard...

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Contents of Article: MSI Computer P35 Platinum
 Pg 1.  MSI P35 Platinum Intel P35 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Introducing the Intel P35 Express and ICH9 Chipsets
 Pg 3.  MSI P35 Platinum Motherboard Highlights
 Pg 4.  Overclocking Intel's P35 chipset
 Pg 5.  BIOS Options / Test System Specs
 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, Super Pi, PCMark05
 Pg 11.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 12.  Motherboard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3., Quake 4
 Pg 13.  PCSTATS Maximum Motherboard Overclocking Chart & Conclusions

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