MSI K8N Diamond - nForce4 SLI
Board Revision: n/a
BIOS Version: n/a
The K8N Diamond is the second SLI board in the test lineup. MSI leaves less room between the two x16 PCIe connections than Asus did, however, and was also apparently uninterested in including any additional x1 PCIe ports.
MSI's CoreCell technology makes another showing here, enabling auto-overclocking to several configurable degrees as the need arises. The on-board sound system is not based on a simple AC97 codec, but using a Creative chip (the SoundBlaster Live 24 bit). There are two network controllers: a Gigabit model and one for 100 MBit LAN.
MSI also thought to add a FireWire chip, and a combined Bluetooth/WLAN controller, including a matching aerial that MSI throws into the package. This must be placed in the red PCI slot and also requires an internal USB port.
When RAM is operated using the BIOS auto settings, we only achieved a maximum memory throughput of 4.9 GB/s. After entering the right timing parameters manually, were we able to score 5.9 GB/s, which was reflected in the benchmarks as a noticeable improvement. Better SPD recognition by the mainboard would be great, especially since the other boards in the test did not have this problem.
We should note however that there will be differences between the board we tested and the delivery version: the heatsink via the voltage converters takes the form of a heat pipe solution. Mounting another fan is an advisable option for use under extreme conditions, such as extreme overclocking or later dual-core processors.