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MSI P7N SLI Platinum Motherboard Review - Page 1 of 5

INTRODUCTION

Having used a variety of motherboards with NVIDIA's 650i chipset during the past 18 months, I wasn't sure about the 750i's benefit over the former, although it seems to be a refresh with some nice tweaks.

The 650i-based motherboards, which include MSI's P6N SLI Platinum, have been trouble-free with performance comparable to more expensive motherboards. As I look at MSI's new offering, the P7N SLI Platinum, I wonder how much improvement over the former there is. That will be the main question to answer for this review.

MSI P7N SLI Platinum 750i Motherboard

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

As with the P6N motherboard, the P7N Platinum features an elaborate copper heatsink/heatpipe chipset cooling solution on a jet-black circuit board. The heatpipe arrangement runs from the MOSFET's to the System Platform Processor (C55 SPP), the nForce 430i Media and Communications Processor (C51 MCP) and the nForce 200.

MSI P7N SLI Platinum 750i Motherboard

The P7N SLI Platinum is uncluttered and has plenty of space. The use of the 430i MCP limits the motherboard to a single LAN port and a maximum of four SATA ports. This isn't a big deal for me personally and you do get the use of two IDE ports and a floppy drive port, which are located at the bottom of the motherboard. Connecting to the IDE and floppy ports can be a hassle as a long cable is needed in most setups to reach the intended device, which are mounted higher up in an ATX tower case.

One final observation is that the P7N Platinum offers three x16 PCI-Express slots that are PCIe 2.0 compatible. This is a little confusing as the nForce 430 MCP offers no PCIe lanes so apparently MSI has enabled the available 8 lanes on the nForce 200. Note that this motherboard does not support 3-way SLI.

SPECIFICATIONS

First up is a connectivity block diagram. The nForce 750i SLI appears to be a refresh of the nForce 650i SLI chipset. However, the nForce 200 chip does provide PCI Express 2.0 features, although the lanes are cut from 32-lane capability, as found on the nForce 780i, to 24 lanes and NVIDIA's Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA) is not featured on this chipset. Nothing much else appears to be changed, even the nForce 430 MCP has been retained.

Connectivety Block Diagram

Detailed specifications for this motherboard can be viewed using the following scrollable applet.

MSI P7N SLI Platinum Specifications
CPU SUPPORT
  • Supports Socket 775 for Intel Core2 Quad, Core2 Extreme, Core2 Duo, Pentium 4, Pentium D, Pentium XE processors
  • Supports 533/800/1066/1333MHz Front-Side Bus (FSB)
  • Supports EIST techonology
  • Supports Intel Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology
  • Supports Intel Dual Core Technology to 1333MHz and up
Chipset/PCI Express
  • Supports FSB 400-1333MHz FSB
  • 18 PCI Express lanes
    - One link at x16 tweaked as chipset interconnect
    - Two PCIe x1 lanes
NVIDIA nForce 200
  • 32 PCI Express 2.0 lanes
    - One PCIe x16
    - Two PCIe x8
Memory
  • NVIDIA DualDDR2 architecture

  • - Supports DDR2 533/667/800MHz Memory
    - 4 x 240-pin DIMM Sockets - 8GB Max
    - NVIDIA QuickSync
    - Fourth Generation DASP
Storage
  • NVIDIA nForce 430 (MCP)
    - 2 x Ultra ATA 33/66/100/133 (data transfer rate up to 133MB/sec.)
  • 4 x SATA 3.0GBPS interface
  • NVIDIA MediaShield Technology
  • Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, RAID 5

  • JMicron JMB363
    - 2 X SATA 3.0Gbps interface

    - Supports eSATA

Audio

  •  Realtek ALC888 8-channel HD Audio CODEC
  • Optical S/PDIF

Networking

  • NVIDIA Gigabit LAN co-supported by Realtek RTL8211BL PHY chip

IEEE 1394 (FireWire)

  • VIA VT6308P FireWire controller
  • 2 x 1394a ports @ 400 Mbps speed

I/O Interface

  • 1 x Floppy connector
  • 1 x Ultra ATA IDE connector
  • 4 x SATA connectors
  • 2 x eSATA connector
  • 8 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / On-board header x 4)
  • 1 RJ45 LAN port
  • Optical S/PDIF port
  • 8-Channel Audio I/O ports
  • 1 x 9-pin serial port (header)
  • 1 x mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port
  • 1 x mini-DIN-6 PS/2 keyboard port

Expansion Slots

  • 1 x PCI-e x16 slot, PCI Express Bus specification v2.0
  • 2 x PCI-e x8 slots, PCI Express Bus specification v2.0
  • 2 x 32-bit PCI slots, PCI 2.3 compliant

Special Features

  • MSI Dual CoreCell
  • Dual CoreCell Center
  • Live Update 3

PCB

  • ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6"(30.5cm x 24/4cm)

ACCESSORIES

The following accessories are included with the MSI P7N SLI Platinum motherboard:

  • 4 x SATA data cables
  • 2 x SATA power converter cables
  • 1 x 80-conductor Ultra ATA data cable
  • 1 x floppy drive data cable
  • Connector bracket (2 x USB 2.0, 1 x FireWire)
  • SLI bridge
  • MSI M-Connector kit
  • I/O shield
  • Driver CDs
  • User's guide

Motherboard and Accessories

Next Page: Motherboard Layout

Last Updated on April 20, 2008


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