MSI Eclipse SLI Reviewccokeman - December 22, 2008
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The MSI Eclipse is a full featured motherboard that includes some interesting options, making the package as a whole a great buy for what you get. The Eclipse has the ability to run both SLI and CrossfireX so you are no longer locked into one multi GPU option, both options are available on an Intel chipset based motherboard. The Green Power Genie is a nice little setup that can help you in your quest to reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the clocks speeds and voltages when you are in an idle state. If you go further and go into max saving mode the clock speeds and voltages are reduced further and stay that way. So yes, you can do your part for the environment. The performance of the MSI Eclipse fell just short of or equal to that of the Asus P6T in most of the testing. Sure, there are some highlights but the total number of wins is far outpaced by the losses. The more telling tale is the difference in performance. It is almost negligible in most cases where wins are separated by one frame per second or a small increase in performance. Both of these items point to the fact that the performance is nearly identical in most cases. Something that I saw when working through all of the P35 boards reviewed by OCC is parity in performance. So what really is there to separate one from the other for a normal non-overclocked high performance gaming machine? Feature set, brand loyalty and price! Both the P6T Deluxe and MSI Eclipse are fully loaded with options to spare as well as top notch components, so all that really is left is price and brand loyalty. Price wise, the MSI Eclipse will set you back about $325 with current online retailers after rebates, this brings it in a scant $13 less than the P6T Deluxe OC edition. So all things considered, the two products are pretty even and with loyalty a non-issue in my book, it's a toss up. Some people will buy a Chevy (any make you choose really) regardless of price, reliability features or performance, it comes down to comfort. One thing I was not comfortable with on the Eclipse was the overclocking recovery or the overclocking in general with the original BIOS. The last BIOS (132b) is a huge improvement but still is a little sketchy on the recovery from a failed overclock. It took the CMOS clear button to get me going after most failed attempts. It does work, but if you get too far out of bounds, it's off to the button. I gotta give credit for making the CMOS clear button easily accessible on the I/O panel.
When it came to overclocking it does take a bit of work to get you to the promised land. Whereas the P6T was good with plenty of Auto settings, the Eclipse needs a little touch here and there to make her play nice. Most of the voltages needed some tweaking to get to my final overclock of 3905MHz. This I achieved with a baseclock speed of 205MHz with a clock multiplier of 19, with a QPI link speed of 3703MHz. Not totally stunning on the max clock speed, but my chip is a hot one, so it is temperature limited with it going under water here in the near future. The baseclock was stable at a scant 2MHz higher than the P6T and I was able to boot at 215Mhz, just without any stability. At the 3905MHz overclock, the performance in the scientific benchmarks showed dramatic improvement, whereas the gaming showed little increase.
Most boards are coming with an on-board sound solution that really is pretty decent in sound quality. MSI Is a bit different here in the fact that it went with a known commodity in the use of Creative's X-FI. Love 'em or hate them, this solution is used exclusively on the Eclipse. I found that the sound quality was equal to or better than the usual Realtek solutions with my jaded ears. The Green Power Genie is a way to reduce power consumption in this economically challenging time when every penny counts where you can go from full tilt to the least possible current draw with a change in some of the settings. The only part of the solution I did not like is the Green Power Module. It is placed inline on the 24-pin ATX power connection and feeds power through to a 24-pin jumper harness that plugs into the Eclipse. In a mid tower case this could present some serious challenges as well as just getting in the way. It works as intended, it's just entirely too large. MSI has done a good job putting together a full featured motherboard that is an enthusiast grade product that can overclock as well as reduce your carbon footprint for a price that is competitive.
- Feature set
- Great performance
- Creative X-Fi sound
- Green Power Genie works
- Overclocking application
- Onboard power switch
- Overclocking (you gotta work for it)
- Green Power Genie (bulky)
- Overclocking recovery