Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 /
Note: Various combinations of the above
listed test system components were used in testing the MSI K8N Diamond Plus in
this review. Changes are noted in each test. Only the 2GB of Patriot PC3200
system memory, the NEC 16X DVD, the NVIDIA nForce4 AMD Driver Package v.6.70,
Enermax 600W power supply, Windows XP Professional SP2, and of course the K8N
Diamond Plus motherboard was used throughout all testing.
A very nice looking and feature-rich motherboard, the K8N Diamond Plus is impressive with dual Gigabit Ethernet, VIA 3-port IEEE 1394a, and a total of six SATA II ports besides the nForce4 SLI x16 chipset. The Ethernet options include Marvell 88E8053 and SATA II, Silicon Image SiI3132, controllers. Both are PCI-e for better throughput performance.
I/O Panel Connections
Rear panel motherboard connections look familiar
with latency PSA mouse and keyboard connections, as well as printer and gameport
connections; firewire, two LAN, and four USB 2.0 connections; also external
speaker plug-ins for 7.1 channel sound are familiar.
8-Pin Power Connector
Positioning of the 8-pin power connector could present a problem connecting and disconnecting when using a large HSF as well as a potential clearance problem with the tall copper heatsink on the Northbridge SPP. However, I experienced no problems using the Thermalright XP-90 with 92mm fan. There was ample room for accessing the plug and clearance with the heatsink was more than adequate. Unfortunately, I no longer have any of the popular Zalman HSFs to check for clearances. With a diameter of 4.3 inches it would be a tight fit for the Zalman with a 92mm fan and the model with the 120mm would be a 'no-go' unless it sets high enough to clear the Northbridge heatsink.
MOSFETS, AMD 939-PIN ZIF Socket
Moving to the interior of the board we find neatly arranged mosfets and low
profile capacitors that removes any concern for heatsink clearances on this side
of the CPU. Yet, of note is the absence of any extra cooling apparatus or
heatsinks for the mosfets like the Intel-version P4N Diamond. The old K8N
Diamond used MSI's Active MOS cooling like so many of their previous motherboard
offerings. This former cooling feature sported an active heatpipe on the MOSFETS.
The K8N Diamond Plus however, features a very normal set of capacitor and
MOSFETS with no additional cooling, albeit they're neatly arranged.
MSI K8N Diamond Plus
A definite plus for MSI here! The full pic of the board (above) clearly shows
that the x16 PCI-e slots have received a spacing increase. This will adequately
provide the opportunity of using a wide selection of third party cooling
solutions for the video cards in an SLI configuration, even those solutions
taking up a full two slots will have enough room.
Between the x16 slots are two PCI-e x1 slots to go with the open-end PCI-e x2
slot and the two PCI slots further down the board. Another plus, like the P4N
Diamond, the K8N Diamond Plus does not need a flip-chip or jumpers to enable SLI
as simply populating the second x16 slot with a compatible card activates this