MSI P45 Platinum
MSI’s Platinum series represents high-end features at better-value pricing, and a starting price of around $175 for it P45 Platinum puts this model directly between the high-end and mainstream parts of other brands. That raises a question of whether the P45 Platinum is a better value competitor to high-end parts like the Asus P5Q Deluxe, or an upscale competitor to mainstream models such as the Biostar TPower i45. Let’s see if we can figure it out.
It appears MSI has given up on its Circu-Pipe chipset cooler design and gone with a more artistic style. Under those sinks are the P45 Express northbridge, ICH10R southbridge, and the transistors for a 6-phase CPU voltage regulator.
While all of the P45 Platinum’s key features can be found on a cheaper competitor’s motherboard, none of the sub-$150 boards have all of them. For example, only the Jetway HI04 has a six-phase voltage regulator, but Jetway doesn’t use the RAID-supporting ICH10R southbridge or provide IEEE-1394 FireWire. And while Jetway would appear to have a lead over MSI with its extra eSATA port, MSI has two additional internal SATA ports.
So is the P45 Platinum a more expensive alternative to the Jetway HI04, or is the HI04 a cheap knock-off of the MSI P45 Platinum ? A look back at Jetway’s rendition of MSI’s former “Circu-Pipe” cooler design could provide some insight, though Jetway has the singular advantage of its two-digit post-code display.
When it comes to connector placement however, MSI has a huge lead over cheaper competitors. Eight-pin and 24-pin power connectors are almost ideally located at the top rear corner and front edge, the floppy connector is located directly behind the place where most tower cases have a 3.5” external bay, and the Ultra ATA connector is only a little low on the front edge for somewhat easy cable routing to the upper bays of mid-tower cases. This combination pits the P45 Platinum directly against ultra expensive competition like the Asus Maximus II Formula.
Like the Maximus II Formula, the P45 Platinum has the distinction of six forward-facing Serial ATA ports that could be blocked by the hard drive cages of some cases, and two additional upward-facing ports. Graphics card clearance is the reason for pointing those six ports forward, and when placed into a properly laid-out case, either model will allow a full set of drive cables to be installed. MSI has the advantage of separate three-gigabit pathways for its added ports, while Asus’ disadvantage is a side-effect of the otherwise highly-praised SteelVine port multiplier.
There are a few things that prevent MSI from competing directly on price alone with the Maximus II Formula however, as the Asus model has an audio riser card with a claimed increase in audio clarity, and added slot that can service either PCI Express x1 cards or the audio riser card, an externally-mounted diagnostics display module, dual BIOS, and—for those who care about such things—more bling.
MSI doesn’t just lack lights under its power and reset buttons, it doesn’t even put shiny covers on them. Not that this matters to us, but it’s sure to affect the buying decisions of those whose tastes are a little more flamboyant. Beneath the buttons are three USB headers to support a combination of six USB 2.0 ports and bay devices.
So is the P45 Platinum a premium alternative to mainstream motherboards, or a less-expensive alternative to high-end parts ? Neither. For today’s review the P45 Platinum owns the $150-200 segment, as it competitors have provided no similarly-priced products to compare it to.