MSI P7N Diamond Reviewccokeman -
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MSI has included more than enough accessories and features with the P7N Diamond for the casual user, and just about everything the enthusiast would expect. First off, we've got the standard manuals and driver disks - and MSI even includes a Quick-Start guide to help power users get their new motherboard set up as soon as possible. There are driver and utility disks provided for Windows XP and Vista, each OS gets its own disk. Also, MSI is the first motherboard manufacturer to include a Creative Labs X-Fi PCI-E sound card, which comes with its own manual and driver disk! Awesome!
The Creative X-Fi Extreme Audio MSI Edition sound card is an 8-Channel audio solution which uses Creative's CA0110 audio chip. Users can set up two, four, six, or even eight speakers in a surround-sound configuration, and because the X-Fi pulls all the power it needs from the PCI-E bus, no additional power source is needed.
One of the best features on the P7N is its Tri-SLI capability, and MSI has provided the bridge connections to make that a reality, including one long and two short SLI bridges. For those who don't know, Tri-SLI is a graphics solution that combines the power of three compatible video cards, but only Nvidia's 8800 and 9800 series GTX, and 8800 Ultra cards are capable of Tri-SLI. The I/O shield is pretty much standard fare - no need for anything fancy when you won't see it anyhow.
MSI has drive connectivity covered, as they include a floppy drive cable, an IDE cable, and six SATA cables with power pigtails. An expansion-slot bracket sporting one FireWire and two USB 2.0 ports is included, as is another expansion bracket that offers external SATA data and power connections.
The final item included in the accessory bundle is a set of "quick connectors" that are meant to take the pain out of hooking up the front panel connections. MSI calls these little time savers "M-Connectors", and they're designed to allow users to connect front panel wires to a block, which then hooks up to the headers on the motherboard. Plus, MSI includes an M-Connector instruction book just in case you get a little confused. This means no more cramming my massive paws into a mid tower to get the job done - pretty sweet deal!
Now that we've explored the P7N Diamond's accessories, let's have a look at the actual motherboard!