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MSI Eclipse Plus: Does nForce 200 Boost 3-Way SLI?

nForce 200-Enhanced: MSI Eclipse Plus

Advanced features including a rear-panel diagnostics display, OC Dial overclocking, and an additional PCI Express x16-length slot allow MSI’s latest Core i7 motherboard to eclipse (Ed.: Nice, Thomas) its previous X58 Express models.

A single nForce 200 hub allows the Eclipse Plus to boast three x16 slots, though the fourth slot is limited to four PCIe lanes. PCIe x16 slots 2 and 3 share bandwidth via that hub, and all four slots support bandwidth-doubling PCIe 2.0 mode.

Previously seen in its AMD-oriented 790FX-GD70, OC Dial allows adjusting bus speeds on-the-fly at the BIOS level, without a need for additional software.

Interfacing with Intel's X58 northbridge directly, the nForce 200 hub resides next to the ICH10R southbrige for quicker access to nearby second and third x16 slots. To the right of this, two JMicron JMB322 port multipliers allow four SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports to share a JMB362 dual-port PCIe x1 controller in a similar fashion.

Specific to MSI’s highest-priced boards are its X-Fi Xtreme Audio PCIe x1 sound card, GreenPower Genie input power monitor, and D-LED2 push-on monochromatic display. Because the display connector is found directly beneath the oversized southbridge sink, it’s normally covered by a third graphics card in 3-way SLI configurations. Those who don’t cover up the D-LED2 module with a graphics card will find that it can display several BIOS parameters, making it useful in combination with the OC Dial feature.

A full set of cables and bridges support up to eight internal SATA drives, two additional external drives (four total), and three-way graphics configurations in the builder’s choice of CrossFireX or SLI.

We’d just like to mention before moving forward that placing a heat shield over a heat sink somewhat defeats the purpose of its fins. They do look nice, but we’re far more concerned with performance.

  • stumpystumped
    tri GTX295 that's a lot of power consumption.
    Reply
  • Proximon
    Interesting results to be sure, but now I want to know how much performance difference there is with just a single card. I kind of feel there is a control lacking because we don't see how just the single X16 performs in each case.
    Still, the consistent performance of the top end boards make me a believer, I just would have liked that baseline to see if there were any other factors at work.
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    ProximonInteresting results to be sure, but now I want to know how much performance difference there is with just a single card. I kind of feel there is a control lacking because we don't see how just the single X16 performs in each case.Still, the consistent performance of the top end boards make me a believer, I just would have liked that baseline to see if there were any other factors at work.
    By the data presented, we can pretty much gather that it'd be very close to the same. It's the same chipset controling the first slot on both boards, while the Nforce controler takes over the second and third on the msi. So there's really no point in benching a motherboard for something it wasnt designed for.
    Reply
  • phatboe
    Honestly I'm sick of Intel, I want them to allow NVidia to make core i7 chipsets so that we can see some kind of competition in chipsets.
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    phatboeHonestly I'm sick of Intel, I want them to allow NVidia to make core i7 chipsets so that we can see some kind of competition in chipsets.
    Nvidia chipsets are no match to Intel chipsets (drivers, overclocking, stability, reliability), and with Intel having SLI support theres no point in an Nvidia chipset.

    As for MSI - i wouldnt even spend $50 on an MSI product let alone this product - they are RUBBISH cheap crap poorly designed products.
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    This reminds me of an article waaaaaay back, actually 2 articles
    1. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-7800gs-confirms-agp-aint-dead,1213-2.html

    and

    2. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pci-express-scaling-analysis,1572.html

    I'd be grateful if you could revisit the second one, since GTX285/GTX295 + HD4890/HD4870X2 are with us now, and there's PCIe 2.0.
    I know that things probably wouldn't have changed much since that article since PCIe 2.0 goes 2xPCIe link speed so it is simple math to get some numbers but, still, it might be worth looking into since new chipsets and processors are available also.

    Anyways thanks for the good read.
    Reply
  • Ramar
    apache_livesAs for MSI - i wouldnt even spend $50 on an MSI product let alone this product - they are RUBBISH cheap crap poorly designed products.
    I've got several friends running MSI boards that they love and have been running for years. They don't look like much but I've never seen one pop a cap or anything.
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    apache_livesAs for MSI - i wouldnt even spend $50 on an MSI product let alone this product - they are RUBBISH cheap crap poorly designed products.Really? Have you ever had one?

    I've used msi boards now and then at least since canterwood, but have yet to see a single board that is rubbish - or cheap. The designs are usually superior to asus, but then apart from support that is asus' single biggest weakness.

    Overall the ONLY bad thing I can say about msi is the lack of active cooling on their 790GX boards. They do run without active cooling, but they run so much cooler with it. I usually end up running a socket a fan @ 7v on the chipset heatsink on those boards just to be sure I won't have to look at them again in a few years because they died.
    Reply
  • emyyhh
    Makes me glad to have bought a RIIE amisdt all the hype of the nForce 200.
    Reply
  • scook9
    The nForce 200 is simply a marketing ploy by nvidia, that until today was working. This article exposes the shortcoming of it, you cant make something from nothing, you will still be limited by the original PCIe lanes off the northbridge. And sadly - for the extreme high end user, I don't see northbridges with 48+ PCIe 2.0 lanes coming any time soon.

    I really wish Intel had played nice with nvidia and gotten us SLI on x38/x48, or maybe try to retroactively garner that ability. I have always preferred Intel's chipsets to Nvidia's. The nforce chips just can't overclock worth a dam. I mean really, who better to make a chipset for a CPU than the CPU designer.

    After this article I am still pretty happy with my Rampage II GENE and its x16-x16 SLI (GTX 275s). I only play on a 24" screen, so I can't justify 3 way SLI at all.

    If Tom's gets some spare time, I would like to see a 1x vs. 2x. vs. 3x SLI comparison, to see just how well the drivers actually scale.
    Reply