MSI P7N Diamond Reviewccokeman - May 18, 2008
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So you want to run a dual GPU setup, and deciding whether you'll go with ATI or Nvidia cards is obviously the most important choice you'll make. Let's say you think Team Green is the way to go, but what's next? Well, the first thing you'll need is an Nvidia SLI-capable motherboard with multiple PCI-E x16 expansion slots, and then you'll want to pick up those graphics cards we talked about to build the high-octane gaming monster your friends will drool over. There are several fine SLI chipsets to choose from, but why reach back into the past for something that does not offer bleeding edge features like Tri-SLI and support for Intel's new 45nm CPU's? Nvidia's 780i SLI MCP (Media and Communications Processor) platform offers those features and more, and is billed as one of the newest and most overclocking-friendly chipsets around.
The 780i SLI platform is very popular among Nvidia's board partners - but today, the focus is on MSI and its P7N Diamond motherboard. The P7N Diamond is based on the 780i SLI Northbridge and NF570 SLI Southbridge, and features PCI-E 2.0 support. The sound solution is provided by Creative Labs' X-Fi Xtreme Audio MSI Edition sound card, and is a member of the first generation of PCI-E X-Fi products from Creative. So will this new chipset be an improvement over the 680i? Did Nvidia get past the FSB holes and chipset heat issues that have plagued their Socket 775 motherboards? We will see!
The P7N Diamond comes in a box well suited to the name of the product; it's very flashy, and is a perfect fit for the "Diamond" moniker. The front of the box displays a large diamond and some basic specs, while the rear panel gives a full breakdown of the P7N Diamond's most important features, including the Circu-Pipe Northbridge cooling assembly and the Creative X-Fi sound card.
MSI has added a cool flip-up panel on the P7N Diamond's packaging, which gives you a view of the CPU socket, as well as detailed info on the board's Tri-SLI support, and its Dual-Channel PWM and solid capacitors - which will provide your most important components with the clean, stable power they need to provide optimal performance.
As I pulled the P7N Diamond's contents from its package, I find that MSI has included a number of useful accessories and thorough product documentation; this is the type of attention to detail that thrills enthusiasts. When I finally dug through the wealth of extras, I found the subject of this review - the MSI P7N Diamond.
Now that we've had a glance at the P7N Diamond, let's take a deeper look at what your hard-earned dollar gets you.