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MSI K8N Diamond Plus Review Page 2 of 6

TEST SYSTEM COMPONENTS

  • AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (San Diego) 939 Processor
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Dual Core 939 Processor
  • MSI K8N Diamond Plus Motherboard
  • Patriot PC3200 PDC2G3200 Memory - 2 x 1GB DIMMs, 2-3-2-5, 1T
  • Western Digital 'Raptor' WD740GDRTL 74GB 10,000 RPM 8MB Cache Serial ATA 1.5 Gb/s HDD
  • Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache Serial ATA150 HDD
  • 2x HITACHI Deskstar 7K80 HDS728080PLA380 -0A30356 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s HDDs, Raid 0
  • NEC 16X, Model ND-3550A IDE DVD Burner
  • Enermax 600W Noisetaker Power Supply Model EG701AX-VE (W) (24P)
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GS PCI-Express Graphics Card - 256MB - 425MHz/1000MHz - overclocked at 485MHz/1100MHz for SLI
  • XFX GeForce 6800 GS XXX Edition PCI-Express Graphics Card - 256MB - 485MHz/1100MHz
  • EVGA 7900 GT CO SUPERCLOCKED PCI-Express Graphics Card - 256MB - 550MHz/1580MHz
  • NVIDIA ForceWare Graphics Driver Versions WHQL 81.98 and 84.21
  • NVIDIA nForce4 AMD Driver Package Version 6.70
  • ViewSonic P225f 22" CRT Monitor / 99Hz @ 1600x1200 Refresh Rate / 84Hz at 1920x1440 / 79Hz at 2048x1536
  • Samsung SyncMaster 204T / 20.1" 16ms LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 700:1 0.255mm Pixel Pitch / Native resolution 1600x1200
  • Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 / DirectX 9.0c

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.

MOTHERBOARD LAYOUT

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 feature.

Next Page: Layout Continued

Last Updated on April 10, 2006


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