MSI’s new motherboard doesn’t have a mere heat pipe to wick heat from the chipset and voltage-regulator modules. It has a full-on loop de loop heat ride through the amusement park known as the P35 Platinum. Why include the crazy Circu-Pipe? We don’t really know, but it sure does look cool.
The board itself is based on Intel’s new P35 chipset (aka Bearlake), so it will work with the next generation of Intel processors. Although there are two x16 PCI-E slots, dual-graphics support is limited to AMD’s Radeon parts, as Nvidia still won’t unlock any SLI license for non-nForce desktop chipsets.
MSI goes beyond a simple power LED by integrating a multi-LED array that helps you diagnose POST issues. The company did make a few design gaffes though. MSI broke the usual front-panel header array into two rows that are somewhat confusing; they look almost like FireWire or USB headers. Another rookie move: One of the SATA ports will be blocked if you run a double-wide graphics card.
Board layout isn’t our major concern with the P35 Platinum though, performance is. Using the same RAM, drivers, and components we used in our last mobo shoot-out, we found the P35 Platinum lagging in RAM tests by a serious margin. We also saw problems crop up in our Valve Particle test, which is particularly sensitive to RAM latency. Though we suspect a simple BIOS update could fix our problems, we’d rather go with another P35 board for now.
Guaranteed to work with next-gen Intel CPUs.
Some SATA connectors blocked by double-wide GPUs.
Sisoft Sandra XI (MB/s)
3DMark2001 SE Overall
Valve Particle Test
Fear 1.07 (FPS)
We used a 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 overclocked to 2.33GHz on a 1,333MHz front-side bus, 2GB of Corsair DDR2 and 2GB of Corsair DDR3, a WD GD740 drive, a GeForce 7900GTX, a 1KW PC Power and Cooling PSU, and Windows P Professional. Intel boards were tested with AHCI modes enabled.