MSI P45 Platinum Reviewccokeman -
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The MSI P45 Platinum is an ATX form factor motherboard built around the Intel P45 northbridge and ICH10R southbridge. The XpressCool heatpipe system looks like many of the others in use but is slightly different in its implementation. The back side of the board is absent of the additional heatsinks seen on other manufacturers' boards.
The I/O panel includes all of the normal connectivity options seen on performance motherboards. PS/2 for both the mouse and keyboard, six USB 2.0 ports, one 1394 Firewire, one e-SATA, one Optical S/PDIF output, one RJ-45 LAN port, a Clear CMOS switch and the six audio ports for the HD audio.
Expansion needs are met with the two x16 PCI-E 2.0 slots that support Crossfire X, two PCI slots and the tw PCIe x1 slots. When dual graphics cards are run in Crossfire mode, the two x16 PCI-E slots auto configure from x16 x x0 to x8 x x8. While that seems a step backwards, the bandwidth offered under the PCI-E 2.0 spec makes this a non-issue. An auxiliary 4-pin power connector is used to provide power to the video card(s). The front panel connections and additional onboard headers are located along the bottom edge of the P45 Platinum.
The connections available along the bottom of the board, from left to right, are the front panel audio, CD sound input, digital sound output, 1394 Firewire, front panel headers, three USB 2.0 headers for six more ports, Trusted Computing Module and a COM port. The P45 Platinum has onboard power and reset switches available if you use a tech bench or need to diagnose the front panel connections.
All of the drive connectivity is located on the right side of the motherboard. There are a total of eight SATA connections available, six controlled by the ICH10R chipset and two by the Jmicron controller. Also on the side are one IDE port and one Floppy drive connection.
The four DIMM slots can house up to 16 gigabytes of DDR2 1200 (OC) memory. Yes kiddies that’s right, 16GB. Even with the rows of capacitors around the LGA 775 socket, installing a water block or large heatsink did not present any issues. Across the top edge of the P45 Platinum just over the DIMM slots are a series of diagnostic LEDs. There are still more spread throughout the board.
The Circu-Pipe cooling system is a series of heat pipes that interconnect the heat producing components of the motherboard. Not much stands out from the crowd until you get to the northbridge heatsink. This heatsink sports five, yes five, heatpipes attached to a mini tower. Not only is it unique looking, but it works to keep the northbridge cool. The power supply circuits for the CPU are all sinked and feed the heat into the system for dissipation.
Just to get an idea of the height of the Circu-pipe heatsink, I put the I/O shield up next to it to offer that comparison. There are two jumpers in between the x16 PCI-E slots. These jumpers can be used to increase the CPU clock frequency, in essence a quick and easy way to overclock outside the BIOS.