Motherboard Guide

MSI X38 Diamond review

MSI X38 Diamond (Intel X38)

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Since we've already previewed the board before, we will only briefly go through the main features here as a quick refresher before getting on with our benchmarks. (For those that have not seen our initial preview of the MSI X38 Diamond, you can still check it out here.)

The MSI X38 Diamond is not your typical Intel X38 motherboard as MSI tries to further extend standard features and throw in a twist or two. One of the main features that most people will notice straight off the bat would be the quad-PCIe x16 slots onboard. With the X38 chipset, we know the two main slots (in blue) have support for full x16/x16 operation, so where does the other two slots draw its lanes from? MSI uses an IDT 89HPES16T 16-lane PCI Express switch to control both slots, providing each with an x4/x4 operation. MSI's approach is the same as what ASUS did with the Maximus Extreme, but the X38 Diamond boasts four slots compared to three of the Maximum Extreme.

Another major change on the X38 Diamond is a new PWM design concept that MSI has been touting. From the onset, it may seem that the board comes with an 8-phase PWM, which is rather commonplace in high-end boards today. However, MSI actually uses a pair of 4-phase circuitry to form what they call a dual-channel 4-phase PWM design. With this dual-channel design, MSI claims better overall efficiency with load sharing and current balancing, something that traditional single channel PWM designs cannot achieve by just adding more phases into the equation. The X38 Diamond also sports an updated 2-phase DIMM PWM (again, similar to what ASUS has done with the Blitz Formula Special Edition).


The one feature that was not apparent in our preview is an updated Circu-Pipe design. Unlike the original one on the P35 Platinum, the X38 series carries a chunkier design on the primary cooler. Also, it no longer extends out to the DIMM slots, which is a better choice in our opinion as the CPU socket area looks less cluttered. All things considered, MSI has done a very good job with the component layout on the X38 Diamond. All connectors and headers are located on the sides of the board and there is nothing interfering with expansion slots. A decent amount of fan headers (six in total) ensures that cooling is covered as well.