Seven 650i SLI Motherboards Compared

MSI P6N SLI: The "Step Down" Model

For buyers who really want the P6N SLI Platinum but can't justify its middling price, MSI has a low-cost version based on the same circuit board. The P6N SLI promises most of the same major features, but without the fancy cooling kit or accessories.

Features Overview

Anyone looking for a detailed description of layout should refer to the previously described P6N SLI Platinum, as the standard P6N SLI uses the same board but with some minor component changes.

Most noticeable of cost reductions on the P6N SLI are the two passive aluminum coolers. MSI logo covers add style but hinder airflow, requiring at least a downdraft-style CPU cooler to reach adequate cooling levels. Other cost reductions include the use of electrolytic capacitors for everything except CPU power.

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MSI P6N SLI (Revision 1.0)
NorthbridgeNVIDIA nForce 650i SLI (C55 SPP)
SouthbridgenF430 (MCP51)
Voltage RegulatorFour Phases
BIOS2.1 (04/04/2007)
266.7 MHz (FSB1066)266.7 MHz (+0.0%)
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard2x PCIe x16 (1x x16 or 2x x8 pathways)1x PCIe x13x PCI2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)1x IEEE-1394 FireWire1x Floppy2x Ultra ATA4x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s1x Serial Port Header1x Front Panel Audio1x CD Audio In1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)3x Fan 3 pins (System)1x Power LED
IO panel2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)1x RJ-45 Network4x USB 2.01x IEEE-1394 FireWire1x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF optical)5x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In or Line-In)
Mass Storage Controllers
MCP514x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10 capable)2x Ultra ATA-133 (4-drives)
NVIDIA Gigabit Network1x Realtek RTL8211BL PHY
HDA (Azalia) Controller InterfaceRealtek ALC888 7.1 Codec
VIA VT6308P2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)

The only controller missing from the P6N-SLI, as compared to the Platinum version, is eSATA. That makes this the cheapest board in the lineup to include IEEE-1394 FireWire

MSI further removes the digital coaxial output connector from the non-Platinum version, but remaining features are left in place.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.