MSI K8N Diamond Plus

Conclusion: When In Doubt, Leave The Tube Panel Out

MSI's K8N Diamond Plus is the first board we have received from the company in a long time that we found completely satisfying technologically. The Socket 939 board comes with a solid feature set, and is well equipped to handle any demands its buyers may make of it over the next few months. Whether you are talking about an SLI setup consisting of four graphics chips, three separate graphics cards for a total of six displays, the Athlon 64 FX-60 or the odd overclocking adventure - the K8N Diamond Plus is ready for prime time.

The board's performance is right on par with what we would expect from it; of course, it has also been years since we have seen any meaningful differences between comparable motherboards. Instead, feature set and overclocking potential have become increasingly more important as a way for products to set themselves apart from their competitors, and in this respect, the MSI board really shines. The numbers of interfaces and connectivity options should be sufficient for almost any user. In our opinion, the only factor holding the K8N Diamond Plus back from surpassing the 300 MHz mark on the system bus is its three-phase power design, which isn't exactly generous by today's standards.

Both the inclusion of the on-board Soundblaster Audigy and the elegant heat pipe design deserve special mention and are laudable. Still, in the case of the latter, we would have preferred a completely passive system without an additional fan. In our opinion, the HiFi Edition with the Tube Panel is not worth the extra cost. We would always recommend using the digital connection whenever possible; when in doubt, this is always the best solution.

Feature List

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ModelK8N Diamond Plus
BIOS Version1.12
CPU Clock2406
NorthbridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI X16
SouthbridgeNvidia nForce 430
Memory Sockets4
Maximum RAM4
System Components
Piezo PC Speaker-
PCIe Card Lock-
Northbridge Fanyes
FAN HeadersCPU, System (x2)
I/O Components
Mass Storage ControllerNvidia nForce 430
Storage Ports4x SATA/300, 2x UltraATA/133
RAID Support0, 1, 0+1, 5
Secondary Mass Storage ControllerSilicon Image
Secondary Storage Ports2x SATA/300
RAID Support0, 1
Primary Network ControllernForce4 GbE + Marvell 88E1115
Secondary Network ControllerMarvell 88E8053 GbE
Parallel / Serial1 / 1
USB Ports (integrated / additional)4 / 6
Firewire (integrated / additional)1 / 2
Game Port-
IR Connectoryes
Expansion Components
PCI Slots2x 32 Bit
PCI Expressx16, x16, x4, x1, x1
Temperature Monitoringyes
Fan Monitoringyes
Smart/Manual Fan Controlyes / yes
Voltage Monitoringyes
Power-Up on...PS/2, PCI PME, RTC
Power-Up after Power Lossyes
On-Board Audio
TypeHigh Definition Audio
ChipCreative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy SE (CA0106-DAT)
Surround Support7.1 Channels
Jackets5x Jacks, SPDIF coax out
Connectors5x2 pin Front Audio, CD-in
BIOS Details
Version / Date1.12, 2005-12-22
FSB Frequency Range / increments200-450
Memory Frequencies100,133,166,200
PCIe Clock100-148.4375; increments 1.5625
CPU Voltage0.8V-1.35V; increments 0.025V
Memory Voltage2.6V-3.2V; increments 0.05V
Chipset Voltage-
Cables2x PATA , 4x SATA, 4x SATA Power, 1x Floppy
Additional Add-OnsBracket with 2x USB; Bracket with 2x 1394a