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We admit it, sexy chipsets such as Nvidia’s nForce 790i SLI Ultra and Intel’s X48 get all the ink, but in reality, most of the world runs on plain-vanilla chipsets such as Intel’s new P45. And the truth is, you don’t necessarily give up performance or features when you choose a middle-of-the-road board; in fact, the affordable MSI Platinum has just about everything you’d want in a motherboard.
Let’s start with the chipset: Intel’s new P45 actually gives you far more features than Intel’s X38 and X48 higher-end chipsets. The P45 Platinum adds PCI-E 2.0 to this mainstream chipset and is the first mobo to use the new ICH10 south bridge, which lets you shut off individual USB or SATA ports to prevent people from stealing your data. (The new south bridge was rumored to add 10Gb Ethernet, but that’s not the case.)
The P45 chipset supports 1,600MHz front-side-bus CPUs—albeit unofficially; it’s a moot point, however, as we don’t expect to see a rash of 1,600 FSB procs for desktop use. The chipset can utilize either DDR2 or DDR3; the P45 Platinum uses DDR2. For most people that’s fine. And since DDR2 is cheaper than dirt right now, it’s affordable to install the maximum amount of RAM that MSI rates the board for, 16GB—twice what the P35 supports.
But enough about the chipset, what about the board? We found it to be a standard, no-nonsense MSI board without any major layout problems—although the chipset heatsink is ridiculous. It’s not particularly big, but it’s certainly strange looking.
The P45 Platinum runs in a dead heat with MSI’s P35 DDR2/DDR3 combo board (reviewed August 2008), with the two boards swapping wins in our benchmark tests. If we had to choose between the two, though, we’d take the P45 in a heartbeat. It offers far more memory-tweaking options, higher RAM capacity, and unofficial 2GHz front-side bus support.
MSI upadate utility makes driver and BIOS updates a snap.
Temperature gauge is loud and annoying.
|MSI P45 Platinum ||MSI P35 Combo (DDR2 Mode) |
|PCMark Overall||8,756 ||8,826|
|PCMark RAM ||5,737||5,576|
|MainConcept (min:sec) ||31:01 ||30:50 |
|3DMARK06 Overall||12,735 ||12,732|
|ScienceMark 2.0 Overall ||1566.45 ||1,510.19|
|ScienceMark 2.0 Mem ||7,112 ||6,110 |
|Valve Particle Test (fps) ||88 ||93|
|FEAR (fps) ||245||250|
|Quake 4 (fps) ||177 ||172|