Shootout at the Core 2 Corral: Seven P965 Motherboards Compared


MSI's Dual Core Center allows you to manage fan and bus speeds from within Windows, with five pre-defined and three user-configurable profiles. Serious overclockers will appreciate BIOS settings that approach the safety limits of most hardware, although a few settings are missing. Memory tweakers should be pleased that MSI supports all memory ratios and the most appropriate latency values.

BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overcloking)
FSB Frequency 200 - 500 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier Adjustment No
PCIe Clock 90-133 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU Vcore default - +0.7875V (0.0125V)
Memory 1.80 - 2.45V (0.05V)
FSB Termination N/A
Northbridge (MCH) 1.21 - 1.69V (~0.04V)
Southbridge (ICH) N/A
Available Memory Ratios (DRAM:FSB)
DDR2-533 (1:1) Yes
DDR2-667 (5:4) Yes
DDR2-711 (4:3) Yes
DDR2-800 (3:2) Yes
DDR2-888 (5:3) Yes
DDR2-1066 (2:1) Yes
CAS Latency Range
tCAS: 3-6; tRCD: 2-6; tRP: 2-6; tRAS: 4-12; Command Rate: N/A

Our Take

The typical overclock value of 346 MHz FSB for our early-revision Core 2 Duo E6700 was easily reached using Intel's boxed cooler - so easily, in fact, that we wanted more. Unfortunately, we were unable to "shoot for the moon" with bus speeds, since the P965 Platinum does not support CPU multiplier adjustment.

The MSI P965 Platinum was top pick for Editors Choice. A lower price and reduced feature set gave the Biostar TForce P965 Deluxe similar value, earning it our "Recommended Buy" award.

Documentation & Software Quick Installation Guide
Driver & Tools CD
Hardware 4x Serial ATA cables
1x 80-conductor round ATA cable
1x Round Floppy Cable
1x USB slot plate (2-ports)
1x FireWire Slot Plate (two ports)
2x SATA power adapters
1x I/O Panel Shield

Note: We received our board before MSI had finalized its retail packaging, which has since become available. MSI specifies different accessories for different regions, so we checked several websites to determine what the company included for the U.S. market. This left us with a complete list, but no accessory photo.

Special Features

The P965 Platinum is the least expensive board in this comparison to offer FireWire and dual PCIe x16 slots. A 12-transistor 4-phase power regulator tops typical specifications, and MSI promises added stability from its Dual CoreCell ASIC.

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