Make no bones about it, the MSI P6N SLI Platinum is a budget Core 2 board that gets you SLI for a song and a dance. It features the cheapest chipset available with SLI: the Nforce 650i SLI.
To make a 650i chipset, take a 680i SLI and cut two SATA ports, lose support for SLI memory, cut a Gigabit Ethernet port, and lose a pair of USB ports. Oh, you also have to chop one of the x16 PCI-E slots, as well as LinkBoost, and settle for one of those old-school manual SLI switches.
If it feels like the P6N SLI Platinum is akin to a budget car with manual steering and windows, it is. However, step on the gas and this card is plenty fast. We ran both boards reviewed here using a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo E6300 mildly overclocked to 2.33GHz on a 1,333MHz FSB with no problems at all. We did get a message that this board doesn’t support OC’d 1,066MHz FSB CPUs, but MSI told us it’s just an advisory. Although we had an easier time overclocking to higher front-side freqs with the Abit, we suspect the same can be done with the P6N SLI Platinum if you have the time to finesse it.
What’s interesting are the performance numbers. With the RAM manually set and the same drivers and hardware, we didn’t see any major gaps. In a way, it’s like when Toyota takes a Camry, slaps on some tech and paint and relabels it a Lexus. If you’re willing to forgo power seats, power windows, and AC, the P6N SLI Platinum is a fine ride.
Auto-update for drivers should be adopted by others.