Among the great mysteries of the universe—the Pyramids, Easter Island, the final season of Seinfeld—you can also include MSI’s RAM color coding.
While the rest of the industry has settled on mounting two DIMMs in slots of the same color to enable dual-channel mode, MSI thumbs its nose at the convention.
Instead, the company forces you to put your RAM in slots of alternating colors to enable dual-channel mode. Since everybody else does it the other way, it usually takes us an hour or two to realize we’ve set the damned thing up wrong.
We know we sound like a broken record when we harp on it, but MSI uses Realtek for audio, and that company has been busted for cheating on EAX. Even though the audio drivers report that they support EAX, they don’t, and the result is asstastic audio in some games. We’re going to keep complaining until Realtek fixes the problem.
All bitching aside, MSI’s P965 Platinum has some compelling features for its price. While other Intel P965-based boards in the MSI’s price range give you but one x16 slot, the P965 Platinum features two physical x16 slots spaced far enough apart for you to run dual x16 ATI CrossFire boards. To get those features out of a Gigabyte P965 board, for example, you’d have to spend about 50 percent more.
Of course, would you want to? Unlike the 975X, the second x16 slot on the P965 board is a bandwidth-limited kludge. While the 975X is configured to give you a pair of matching x8 slots, the P965’s second slot maxes out at x4. That limitation will cost you a five-percent performance hit in graphically intensive applications. That’s not a terrible price, but it’s certainly not something to be happy about either.
In other performance areas, the MSI board delivered very good numbers but was aced by the much pricier Asus board. In the end, the P965 Platinum is a competent board that gets you CrossFire support on the cheap, but as Yoda would say, a Kick Ass that does not make.
CrossFire on the cheap and good online update tools for drivers and BIOS.
Outdated POST LED technology.
MSI P965 Platinum
SiSoft XI (MB/s)
Quake 4 1280x1024 (fps)
FEAR 1.07 Min/Max (fps)
PC Mark 2005 Overall
PC Mark 2005 RAM
PC Mark 2005 GPU
PC Mark 2005 HDD
Valve Particle Test
Best scores are bolded. We used a 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 Dominator RAM, a Western Digital 400GB SATA drive, a GeForce 7900GTX card, and a 1KW PC Power and Cooling PSU for all three motherboards.