MSI Eclipse SLI Reviewccokeman -
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The MSI Eclipse SLI is based on the X58 and ICH10R chipsets and is designed for use with the latest Core I7 socket 1366 processors from Intel, including the 965 Extreme. The Eclipse features six memory slots that can be populated with up to 24GB of system memory in a tri-channel configuration at speeds of 1333/1066/800MHz. Cooling the components on the PCB is accomplished via a series of heatsinks interconnected via heatpipes. The heatsinks are held in via push clips instead of the bolted on design used by some manufacturers. Many of the major components are colored in an alternating black and blue on a black PCB. The exception being the components along the bottom edge of the board. The layout appears very functional but I had concerns about the TRUE heatsink fitting, but it fit with room to spare. However, if you are using 38mm fans, you may lose the use of the first DIMM socket.
The I/O panel offers plenty of connectivity as expected on a high end motherboard. Included are PS/2 ports for both a mouse and keyboard, eight USB 2.0 ports, two E-SATA ports, two RJ-45 LAN ports, one IEEE 1394 Firewire port and one of my favorite accessories, the clear CMOS button. One thing you will notice missing are the jacks for the sound solution. This is because this is taken care of via an exclusive feature from MSI, that being a Creative X-Fi based solution on an add in sound card. The available expansion slots include two PCI-E x1 slots, two PCI slots and three PCI-E x16 slots, two of which run at 16x with the third limited to 4x speeds.
Across the bottom and right hand side are where the majority of the additional connectors is placed. Along the bottom you have the 1394 header, system fan header, The power, reset and DLED switches and the manual overclocking DIP switches. These will allow you to set an overclock without going into the BIOS. There are three levels that adjust the clock frequency from 133MHz to 200MHz. Next in yellow are the USB 2.0 headers, serial COM connection, TPM (Trusted Platform Module) and the front panel connections. Behind the JTPM header is the socket for the Diagnostic LED.
Moving up the right side of the Eclipse you will see the IDE drive connection and the ten SATA ports, four of which are straight up. It looks as though MSI has thought out the location since it looks like they are positioned in such a way that they will not present a clearance issue with larger video cards such as the HD4870x2 or GTX280. The six DIMM sockets are color coded by channel so there is no need to worry about how to fill the DIMM sockets with three modules. If you move up to six modules there is a specific sequence in which they should be filled to maintain a tri-channel configuration.
Power is supplied to the MSI Eclipse SLI via two power connections, the 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin 12v auxiliary power connection located close to the CPU socket. Additionally, there is a small 3-pin connector that hooks into the Green Power Genie module located between the 24-pin and SATA connections.
The CPU socket area is far from crowded. Around the socket you can see the 6+2 phase power design and the tremendous amount of room. MSI has included its second generation DRMOS technology and active phase switching to provide a stable power supply to the CPU memory and X58 chipset. This technology allows for more precise control of the voltages and effectively lowers power consumption. A byproduct is that the operating temperatures are reduced by 30% on the power supply components. The Eclipse uses solid capacitors, shielded chokes and Hi-c capacitors on the CPU power circuits for added reliability and system stability .
The cooling system used on the MSI Eclipse SLI is a split thermal design that is used to effectively lower the operating temperatures of the power control MOSFETs and chipsets. The cooling system for the chipsets is interconnected via heatpipes while the cooling for the MOSFETs is cooled by an independent heatsink to manage the thermal load and provide reduced operating temperatures.