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MSI P6N Diamond Review - Page 2 of 3

INSTALLATION AND MOTHERBOARD LAYOUT

Installation is very simple for most, if not all motherboards. Just set the spacers out on your case's motherboard tray, install the I/O Shield (Backplate), lay the motherboard down, align screw holes with spacers and finally, screw down the motherboard with the appropriate screws provided with your case.

The layout on this motherboard is very nice. In the pictures below, I have compared the layout and size of the MSI P6N Diamond to my Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L. There isn't a whole lot of difference between the two but there are some noticeable features worth mentioning. First is the overall size. The MSI P6N Diamond is a little wider than the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L, while the height is the same. Why is this worth mentioning? Let's take the new Coolermaster RC-690 case that I currently own for example.

Size Comparison - MSI P6N Diamond vs. Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
Click to enlarge (2592X1944) - 866KB

I had a few quirks with the Gigabyte board because the screw holes on the board would not align with the spacers properly, thus forcing me to only install 3 out of 8 screws. This obviously is NOT safe but you can only do what you can do right? The MSI P6N Diamond perfectly aligns with the spacers in the case. However, another problem arose. The Coolermaster RC-690 is not a full-size tower, it is a mid-size. Also, it has cable organizers built into the case right next to the motherboard so installing the MSI board was a tight fit. It was a perfect fit to be exact. But hey, if you are a hardcore PC enthusiast, you should have a full-size tower to fit the latest and greatest hardware right?

Size Comparison - MSI P6N Diamond vs. Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
Click to enlarge (2592X1944) - 997KB

Another thing to mention is the location of the P4 connectors. My case has placement for my power supply on the bottom of the case and with the Gigabyte board installed, it was a tight reach around my video card to connect the P4 connector. With the MSI Diamond, the P4 inserts on the motherboard were closer towards the bottom and created more slack in the cabling. There's a plus for MSI!

INCLUDED SOFTWARE

This particular motherboard comes with two software CDs included: one for Windows XP and one for Windows Vista. Besides the drivers for the NVIDIA 680i SLI chipset, Ethernet and RAID, there is also a selection for MSI's Dual Core Center which is an all in one program that displays voltages and temperatures. The Dual Core Center also allows the user to set difference profiles either for overclocking, stability or low-power usage.

TEST SETUP

  • Intel Core 2 Quad @ 2.4GHz
  • 2 GB Corsair XMS DDR2-800 RAM (PC-6400)
  • MSI NX8600GT Twin Turbo
  • Zalman 600 Watt Power Supply Unit
  • Western Digital 74GB Raptor
  • Windows XP Professional w/ SP2 and DX9.0c
  • Westinghouse 32" LCD

Benchmarking Programs Tested

  • SiSandra Free Edition
  • 3dMark 06
  • SuperPI

Games Tested in Benchmarks

  • Call of Duty 4 Demo
  • Half Life 2: Episode Two

Additional Tidbits

Before we list out our benchmark results, I did want to make a note of one thing. I guess some people would expect me to compare my results with my previous setup but in this case, I cannot. In my previous setup, I had an Intel E4300 @ 3.0GHz with the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L motherboard. If you notice that I now have an Intel Quad Q6600 at stock speeds, there is a pretty noticeable difference in performance just based on the CPUs, therefore, there will be no comparisons to my previous setup. Also, the Quad Core Q6600 is NOT overclocked in any test.

SISANDRA FREE EDITION

SiSandra is a popular benchmark tool used to test your entire system. We will be using it for three different tests: Processor Arithmetic, Processor Multimedia and Memory Bandwidth.

Although a popular benchmark tool, SiSandra still has a few quirks worth mentioning. When getting ready to perform a test, you can select different CPUs with different chipsets to compare and contrast with your own system. I decided to select the same Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 that I was running and got some weird results. Between my Q6600 and SiSandra's Q6600 test result on any test, my CPU was 2% slower. So in this fashion I will just be posting the results of the MSI P6N Diamond plus the Q6600 at stock speeds.

SiSandra Free Edition Results
Click to enlarge (619X312) - 57.4KB

3DMARK 06

3DMARK06 is a well-known benchmarking tool that uses stressful 3D live action scenes to test your GPU, audio and CPU to give one numbered score. I will be using the free version of 3DMARK06 running at default configurations.

3dMark 06 Results
Click to enlarge (595X87) - 21KB

Not the best score in the world, but you have to remember what GPU we are dealing with here: the 8600GT. I'm sure that if I had a 8800GTX, the score would be much higher. Also this is the free edition of the program so it is limited as well. Hopefully this will give some insight on what the MSI P6N Diamond and Intel Q6600 can do with this benchmarking program.

Next Page: SuperPI, Gaming Performance and Conclusion

Last Updated on November 3, 2007


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