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MSI X48 Platinum Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review

MSI X48 Platinum Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: In this review PCSTATS is pleased to be testing out MSI's flagship Intel X48 Express motherboard, the aptly named MSI X48 Platinum.
 84% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Nov 10 2008   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI X48 Platinum

Intel X48 Express - Performance Tuned

The Intel X48 Express chipset is designed for the latest generation of multicore 45nm Socket 775 Intel processors. It officially supports Front Side Bus speeds at high as 1600MHz (800/1066/1333MHz inclusive), although the Intel X38 could (unoffically) manage this when overclocked.

The Intel X48 Express is paired with Intel's ICH9 series of Southbridge chipset. The Southbridge chipset used with the MSI X48 Platinum motherboard in this review is the ICH9R model, so the board supports RAID via Intel's Matrix storage technology.

Memory support expands to DDR3-1600 (XMP) care of Intel's Extreme Memory Profiles. Intel XMP is set of pre-defined memory SPD profiles that allow standard DDR3 memory to be overclocked via the BIOS automatically by selecting the appropriate profile, or via a tuning utility in Windows.

The Intel X48 Express supports DDR3-800/1066/1333/1600 (XMP) memory in a dual channel configuration, up to a maximum of 8GB of unbuffered ECC/non ECC. However, to run memory modules at 1600MHz XMP only one pair of DIMMs may be installed. If two memory modules per channel are installed, the Intel X48 will accommodate DDR3-1333/1067/800 modes only.

The X48 Express is the second Intel Northbridge to come with a heatspreader. This allows the X48 Express to use a smaller heatsink and still keep the Northbridge chipset cool. Here's a quick look at how the new X48 Express stacks up to the P35 Express and X38 chipsets. Apart from the speed increases, inclusion of PCI Express 2.0 and the focus on DDR3 memory alone, there are just a few extra ports.

Intel Chipsets Feature Breakdown
Intel X48 Express Intel X38 Express Intel 975X Express Intel P35 Express Intel P965 Express
CPU LGA775 Core 2 Quad LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo LGA775 Core 2 Duo
Front Side Bus (FSB) 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz 1333/1066/800 MHz 1066/800 MHz 1333/1066/800 MHz 1066/800/533 MHz
Intel XMP Memory Yes Yes No No No
Dual Channel Memory Support DDR3 1600 (XMP)
DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667/533 DDR2 1066/800/667
DDR3 1333(unofficial)/1066/800
DDR2 800/667/533
Maximum Memory Capacity 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Integrated Graphics - - - - -
PCI Express 2.0 x16 2 2 2 1 1
PCI Express x1 6 4 4 6 4
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SATA/IDE HDD 6/0 6/0 4/1 6/0 6/0
SATA Speed 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH9R) 0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH8R)
Hard Drive NCQ Yes Yes - Yes Yes
USB 2.0 Ports 12 12 8 12 8
PCI Masters 6 6 6 6 6
Audio High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia) High Definition Audio (Azalia)

The Intel X48 Express chipset supports up to two PCI Express x16 videocards, each with a full 16 PCI Express lanes. With AMD's CrossFire technology supporting more than two videocards this could be a potential gaming monster. There are six PCI Express lanes associated with the ICH9R Southbridge and a 2GB/s I/O bus between the Northbridge and Southbridge chipsets.

The ICH9R supports 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.

MSI has an included Marvell IDE controller so you can still plug in your old IDE DVD-ROM to install Windows, the ICH9R Southbridge doesn't support legacy IDE drives. Lastly, chipset can work with a Trusted Platform Module in case you want to enable cryptographic protection on your motherboard.

Motherboard highlights are next, let's take a closer look at what the MSI X48 Platinum has to offer you...

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Contents of Article: MSI X48 Platinum
 Pg 1.  MSI X48 Platinum Intel X48 Express Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Intel X48 Express - Performance Tuned
 Pg 3.  Motherboard Highlights Photo Gallery
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the MSI X48 Platinum
 Pg 5.  Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark06, Quake 4, FEAR
 Pg 6.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SYSmark 2007 Preview
 Pg 7.  Motherboard Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra
 Pg 8.  Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 9.  Motherboard Benchmarks: Super Pi & Conclusions

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