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Motherboard: MSI P7N SLI Platinum

System Builder Marathon: Sub-$1000 PC
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We know what many of you are thinking: Isn’t the MSI P7N SLI Platinum the same motherboard you used in yesterday’s sub-$2000 PC? Of course it is!

For around $150 we really only had two choices of modern SLI motherboards, and the “other choice” has been widely panned by actual owners concerning reliability, stability, and overclockability. Given those complaints of the “other brand”, the P7N SLI Platinum was the only logical choice.

That’s not to say there weren’t any “not-so-modern” motherboards we could have considered, since so many 650i models now support "Wolfdale" core Core 2 Duo processors, but the older boards often require a BIOS update using an older processor, simply to boot up with a newer model. Plus, the 750i comes with the guarantee of modern Quad Core support.

The P7N SLI Platinum comes packed with features including an oversized “Circu-Pipe” chipset cooler for enhanced overclocking, eSATA ports, dual ATA connections to support up to four of the older drives, and a FireWire port that typically separates upper-range parts from lower-cost pretenders.

As with all 750i SLI motherboards, only one of PCI-Express x16 slots provides full bandwidth: Other slots of x16 length are limited to x8 transfer mode. A PCI-Express Hub makes MSI’s provision of a third x16 slot in x8 mode possible, but we’ll only be using two cards. We have nothing against x8 bandwidth, as only the fastest and most expensive graphics cards can benefit from bandwidth beyond this basic specification.

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