Motherboard Guide

MSI P7N SLI Platinum review

MSI P7N SLI Platinum (NVIDIA nForce 750i SLI)

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MSI P7N SLI Platinum

Features

Based on the nForce 750i SLI diagram shown on the last page, there isn't really anything new going on in the chipset department, so what makes the MSI P7N SLI Platinum special? We'll you'd probably have noticed by now that the board actually has three PCIe x16 slots onboard. And according to its product specifications, all three slots are PCIe 2.0 compatible. Since the nForce 430 MCP has no PCIe lanes on its own, it would seem that MSI has enabled the remaining eight lanes on the nForce 200 for this board. With this setup, the MSI P7N SLI Platinum can support up to three PCIe 2.0 graphics cards in a x16/x8/x8 setup. This is one of the biggest draws MSI has for the P7N SLI Platinum.

The rest of the board isn't all too shabby either. It sports MSI's high-end components, such as their custom Circu-Pipe cooling (which is probably needed anyway for the hot NVIDIA chips), Dual CoreCell chip as well as full solid capacitors.

Feature-wise, the board may seem slightly dated due to the older nForce 430 MCP, but those still saddled with IDE drives can take advantage of two proper ports like the good old days. Internal SATA 3.0Gbps ports are limited to only four drives, with an additional JMicron JMB363 controller included to provide two dedicated eSATA connections. As the P7N SLI Platinum is a mainstream board, don't expect to find one of MSI's X-Fi gems to be provided onboard. Its audio capabilities are handled by the more modest, but capable Realtek ALC888 HD Audio CODEC.

In terms of connectivity, MSI uses a Realtek RTL8211BL Gigabit LAN PHY to pair up with the NVIDIA MAC and throws in FireWire-400 support through a VIA VT6308P chipset. The nForce 430 can handle up to eight USB 2.0 ports, four of which are immediately accessible.


Layout

Being a simple motherboard, the P7N SLI Platinum has a clean layout that doesn't feel bulky. The only large object is the Circu-Pipe cooler, and even that come off quite slim. The nForce 200 chip is located slightly further from the SPP, giving the snaking heat-pipe and expansion slots some space apart. Still there is a small problem of the headers at the bottom of the board just below the last PCI slot. This close together, we were nearly unable to plug in cables with a PCI card installed. Luckily, the only header affected is the Floppy cable, which we didn't really miss. Overall, a good layout.