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MSI P7N Diamond Review

ccokeman    -   May 18, 2008
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Conclusion:

Let's review what we've learned about the MSI P7N Diamond - at stock settings, this is a rock solid motherboard that certainly keeps the pace with other 780i-based boards, but its performance when overclocking leaves much to be desired. Using my trusty Intel Q6600 processor, which has been proven stable up to 491MHz FSB, the MSI P7N Diamond was barely able to function properly when the FSB was set at 391MHz. This is very disappointing, as the difference in real-world speed when using the Q6600's maximum 9x multiplier is 900MHz - certainly some performance is left on the table. To be fair, the top speed this MSI board achieved was just over 3.5GHz, which is 1.1GHz over the quad-core CPU's 2.4GHz stock speed - nothing to sneeze at. I think a lot of the Diamond's shortcomings stem from a BIOS that is relatively immature, and adding features to simplify overclocking - like changing the way CPU voltage is adjusted - might help this board's capabilities immensely. Some of MSI's beta BIOS' seemed like a step in the right direction, and the continued efforts to enhance this board's performance are a sign that MSI is committed to making this board reach its potential. At this time MSI is continuing the development of the next BIOS to fully realize the performance the board is capable of. Once a newer BIOS is released for the masses I will revisit the overclocking aspect of this review to validate any performance improvements it may provide. The Circu-Pipe cooling assembly definitely had a large impact on the chipset cooling front, and although it was slightly warm to the touch, it certainly didn't get as hot as many Nvidia-based Socket 775 motherboards. Due to the overclocking issues I experienced, the jury is still out as to whether Circu-Pipe will make a huge difference in ensuring overclocking stability - but it should provide users a good level of confidence when the full potential of this board is realized. MSI also scores points for the amount of available space around the CPU socket; even with the Circu-Pipe installed, I had no problem mounting a Tuniq Tower CPU cooler.

The MSI P7N Diamond also presents staggering graphics processing potential, with four PCI-E x16 slots and the ability to run Tri-SLI with compatible 8800 and 9800 GTX and 8800 Ultra video cards. MSI's literature claims that a Tri-SLI configuration provides 2.5x more graphics horsepower than a single card solution. Also, the Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio MSI Edition sound card performed flawlessly in our game tests, while watching movies, and just general computer use. Like many motherboards coming to market these days, the P7N Diamond helps save energy by using high efficiency components to reduce the actual power draw from the mains - which equates to a few extra dollars in your pocket. The MSI P7N Diamond has tons of potential; if the BIOS matures quickly, the P7N has the tools to overclock to the next level.

 

Pros:

  • Effective cooling
  • Creative X-Fi PCI-E sound card
  • Four PCI-E x16 slots
  • Tri-SLI capabilities
  • Unique Circu-Pipe cooling leaves room for large CPU heatsinks
  • Very stable at stock speeds
  • Green features

 

Cons:

  • Immature BIOS
  • Difficult to comprehend adjustments on current official BIOS
  • Massive FSB with quad-core CPU's and 4GB RAM won't work
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