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.