MSI X58 Platinum ReviewZertz - March 1, 2009
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The MSI X58 Platinum is built around Intel's latest chipset, the combination of the X58 northbridge and the ICH10R IOH (input output hub). It is designed for use with the latest Core i7 socket 1366 processors. The Platinum features six memory slots that can be populated with up to 24GB of system memory and officially support speeds up to 1333MHz. Cooling of the PWM area is done by a single small heatsink, while the northbridge get a much bigger one connected via a heatpipe to the southbridge's tiny heatsink. They are held by push pins, similar to those used by Intel. This type of attachment isn't as tight as bolts like some manufacturers now use, which could lead to higher temperatures if contact isn't correctly made. The color theme has room for improvement, although it's far from ugly. The components are well laid out with both the eight and 24-pin power connectors easily accessible. The angled SATA and PATA ports are also nice and usually help with cable management. The front panel connectors are all found at the bottom, once again this helps keep cable clutter to a minimum.
The I/O panel offers plenty of connectivity as we have all come to expect on a a motherboard of this caliber. PS/2 ports for both a mouse and keyboard are included as well as eight USB 2.0 ports, a single e-SATA port, a pair of RJ-45 ports, one FireWire port and last, but not least, a clear CMOS button. There are also five sound outputs as well a microphone input, handled by the onboard sound chip. The available expansion slots include three PCI-E x1 slots, two PCI slots and two PCI-E x16 slots, both capable of running at full x16 speed.
Across the bottom are where the front panel connectors are placed. Starting on the left, you have the audio and FireWire headers. Then there are the handy power and reset buttons, closely followed by a dip switch that will allow you overclock right there, without even stepping into the BIOS. There are three levels that adjust the clock frequency from 133MHz to 200MHz. Next up in yellow are the pair of USB and serial headers. Finally, on the far right are the headers for power and reset switches and LEDs. The socket for the diagnostic LED is present, although it is only bundled with the higher end Eclipse.
Moving up the right side of MSI's Platinum, you will see the PATA drive connection and two SATA ports heading straight up that are handled by the JMicron chip. The remaining six SATA connectors belong to the ICH10R controller and are angled so they don't cause any clearance issues with long video cards such as the HD4870X2 or GTX280 - very well thought out. The six DIMM sockets are color coded by channel. However, if you are only using three of them, they must be in the black slots otherwise the board simply wont POST. Fortunately, it's documented and easy to find in the manual.
The area around the processor's socket is also free of obstacles so installing a huge heatsink won't cause any issues. I successfully installed the Noctua U12P without a hitch and it's among the largest of coolers. Power is supplied to the processor via the 8-pin 12v auxiliary power connection that is conveniently located right on the top edge of the board.
The MSI X58 Platinum uses a split thermal design, which means the power MOSFETs around the processor use a separate cooling apparatus from the north and south bridges, which are themselves linked by a heatpipe. This might keep the MOSFETs a bit hotter than if everything was connected together, but it should allow the other two to stay cooler since they won't share the load with the power distribution system.
Let's now take a look at the MSI exclusive software.