MSI Eclipse Plus ReviewRHKCommander959 - June 11, 2009
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MSI has certainly delivered a great board with the Eclipse Plus, overclocking my i7 to 4GHz was fairly easy although with base clock frequencies past 200 some moderate tweaking had to be done, I even managed to get a CPU-Z at 4.5GHz. If an overclock fails, the motherboard must restart three times to clear - an annoyance but with the clear CMOS button near the PS/2 ports users can easily reset the BIOS and continue overclocking. The BIOS has plenty of options, and worked without a hitch minus a small glitch that I overcame with some work and CMOS clearing, but was likely due to (possibly unstable) overclocking runs. The memory voltage was being loaded at 1.2V rather than 1.6V, and a few other anomalies. Memory support only goes up to 1333MHz, with 1600MHz being possible through overclocking although higher is possible - it worked fine in testing although XMP support may have had a tiny bit of trouble. MSI finally solidified the color scheme to black and blue, removing the heinous copper heat sinks that stood out like sore thumbs and alternatively used matching heat sinks with metal casings with MSI's logos and created a much more serious looking board! The Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi audio card is a nice touch, providing good clear audio through my 5.1 setup through Vista 64-bit, sounding better than onboard audio. The Eclipse Plus features plenty of USB and SATA ports and the four PCI-Express slots are handy for Tri-SLI and CrossFireX configurations (or even folding farms), allowing builders to make even the most powerful setups possible. Speaking of extreme, the motherboard sports two debug LEDs, one on the corner of the motherboard and another on the I/O panel - keeping users informed on boot activity, definitely handy for overclockers! Near the DLED-2 module are buttons and a knob that also help out, especially the knob for on-the-fly overclocking of the base clock - effectively speeding up the memory and CPU, these features are great for test-bed systems!
The only downfall of this motherboard, and it is minor, is the passive heat sink seen on so many X58 motherboards. The design is improved compared to the Eclipse and other X58 MSI boards, and the thermal paste is somewhat better too! The switch from pushpins to screws is an added bonus and having a case with great airflow or adding a small fan drastically decreases temperatures. Without a fan, temperatures rose as high as 85C, while adding even a small fan decreased temperatures to around 60C, 65C at its hottest. Even without the fan the system ran just fine - so the con is only minor. The BIOS oddity that occurred was a nuisance but likely due to the possible instability of higher overclocking, but the extra turbo multiplier worked fairly well and allowed the CPU to run at 4.2GHz with 200 base clock, any higher base clock required more tweaking. The hardware GreenPower energy savings module works well, although is a bit large and comes with an unsleeved cable that does not look too good for a windowed system. The 90-degree bend could allow it to be hidden depending on the case, and at least it reduces power consumption, while possibly helping power supplies that are just too short to plug in the 24-pin cable.
The Eclipse SLI was no slouch, but the Eclipse Plus is definitely much better providing a more refined layout that builds upon the old design and improves upon both the looks and performance! Combine the NF200 performance providing three full lanes of PCI-Express x16 bandwidth with an audio card, overclockability, looks, and energy efficiency and you have a winner!
- NF200 chip adds four PCI-Express x16
- Tri-SLI/CrossFireX capable
- Dual debug LEDs
- Dual LAN ports
- Ten SATA ports
- Onboard switches for power, reset, overclocking, and more
- GreenPower energy efficiency
- Good solid color scheme
- Passive chipset cooling