MSI X58 Platinum ReviewZertz - March 1, 2009
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Since the introduction of Intel's new processors based on the Nehalem architecture, the market mostly consisted of very high end boards selling for $300 and beyond, let alone the far from affordable DDR3 memory that is now a requirement. More recently, a few less expensive boards have been released based on their high end counterparts minus some of the fancy features. This strategy has drove the price down to around $200, which is actually not bad at all. The MSI X58 Platinum is one of those, it shares many aspects of the Eclipse SLI. Physically, it's clear the boards share more than the chipset. The Platinum's PCB is nearly identical to the Eclipse, beside the color theme and the cooling system. That makes the Platinum an extremely capable board, my particular sample was able to hit 204MHz base clock with stability, although of course not every board will overclock the same. That's a pretty impressive feat for a stripped down model on such a young platform. The layout of the onboard components is also well done, the power connectors are exactly where you want them to be. The lone PATA and six SATA ports are well placed and angled 90 degrees so they don't interfere even with the largest video cards.
On the software side, the Platinum is bundled with the same MSI exclusive programs - LiveUpdate, GreenPower Center and Overclocking Center. The first one, LiveUpdate, is pretty interesting especially for people who don't religiously check for updates. The last two should have been merged into a single application and for some reason you cannot run both at once. It's not like they were indispensable, but it is annoying nonetheless. The Overclocking Center is actually pretty impressive for an overclocking application under Windows, although it is a bit more limiting than doing it straight from the BIOS. Speaking of which, the BIOS was easy to navigate and there is a good deal of customization to be done, but it's not overwhelming unlike some so-called extreme boards. The one thing that really annoyed me is setting the voltage on the processor and QPI link. Instead of using actual values, MSI decided it was better to use relative values like +0.15. While it isn't entirely a bad idea since it makes you realize how much over stock settings you are pushing your parts, there isn't any way to know what the reference values are. Basically, you never really have anything more than a rough idea of how much voltage you're pushing into the components.
Other than that, the MSI X58 Platinum is a great board for those wanting to jump on the i7 bandwagon while also looking to cut costs as much as possible. With the memory controller now part of the processor, performance between different boards is not only similar but often identical. One of the only missing major features is the lack of SLI, although it most likely won't be a huge deal to the audience interested in this board. The Platinum SLi version is available for $229 on Newegg if you are looking for SLI which is only about a $10 to $15 difference. The board was very stable throughout my testing and I didn't experience any major issues, even during some enthusiastic overclocking sessions. Overall, I can wholeheartily recommend this board for anyone running on a relatively tight budget. Performance wise, it has nothing to envy compared to the more expensive X58 boards. However, if you're looking for those extra fancy features, you might want to look into something in the higher end of the spectrum.
I found out late this morning that if you use the latest Bios for the Platinum SLI board SLI does in fact work. This is a very intresting piece of news and we will be testing this and we will update shortly.
- Onboard power, reset & clear CMOS buttons
- Relative voltage values in BIOS