We loved MSI’s last nForce4 board so much that we gave it a Kick Ass award and even bumped the Asus A8N32-SLI board from our Best Of The Best list. Unfortunately, MSI was so late to the nForce4 SLI x16 party that the board debuted right on the cusp of the AM2 launch; thus its lifespan was brief, and product was impossible to find.
Well, MSI promises that the new K9N SLI Platinum is free of unobtainium—too bad the K9N SLI Platinum isn’t quite as sexy as the last MSI board we reviewed.
The board steps down from dual x16 PCI-E slots to dual x8 slots. Also left on the factory floor are nVidia’s automatic PCI-E overclocking feature and EPP memory support for easier clock boosts. It’s not all bad, though. For the most part, it’s difficult to find a performance difference between two GPUs operating in x16 or x8 mode. And overclocking the PCI-E bus hasn’t proven to give much of a boost, either.
Dropping to dual-x8 SLI support also lets MSI use a single-chip chipset (with more modest cooling requirements) instead of the two chips that a full nForce 590 requires. MSI also omitted the POST LED, an extra SATA controller, and eSATA support.
The sweet thing about the K9N SLI Platinum is that it delivers some of the more useful 590 features to budget users, without the extra cost. The 570 gives you paired Gigabit Ethernet and packet prioritization for $160. While we can understand eliminating certain options for a poor-boy config, we’re baffled as to why MSI left out the LEDs—that’s what lets you know the board is powered.
The K9N SLI Platinum did quite well in our performance testing, especially for a board this cheap—it managed to hang with the pricier nForce 590 Gigabyte board. That makes it a good choice for AM2 SLI on a shoestring budget.
Month Reviewed: November 2006
+ SNICKERS: Good performance and a low price make this the entry-level SLI board to run.
- 3 MUSKETEERS: Omits advanced features, such as power LED and eSATA, to save a buck.