MSI K9N SLI Platinum
slide show: MSI K9N Platinum
The K9N Platinum uses Nvidia's nForce 570 SLI chipset, so when operating in SLI mode, each x16 PCIe video card would be operating at PCIe x8 speeds, as for both to work at x16 speeds the nForce 590 SLI chipset is required.
On a side note, this reviewer found it more than a little amusing that the box prominently features an obvious X-Wing fighter knockoff. Gotta love campy copyright infringement of this magnitude, so my kudos go to the MSI artists who are clearly big time "Star Wars" fans...
For expandability, the board features two PCIe x16 slots for video accelerators, two PCIe x1 slots and three standard PCI slots. Once again we have the four integrated USB ports, and three headers to support for six more USB ports. A single Firewire (IEEE1394) port is on the motherboard and a header for a second port is available on the board as well
Ethernet is done a little differently from most of the nForce boards, the two network ports utilizing the PHY Vitesse VSC8601 controller instead of an Nvidia controller. The SATA is standard nForce chipset issue however, with six ports for SATA/300 devices, and a single old-school UltraATA/100 connector.
Like some other boards in the comparison, the K9A uses the Realtek ALC883 codec for seven-channel high definition audio. Five audio mini jacks, a single SPDIF coax and a single optical out are present for audio connectivity, and connectors are available for 5x2 pin Front Audio and the CD-in.
The MOSFETS and chipset have simple passive heat sinks, which is great for noise. The unfortunate consequence of this quiet setup is that the chipset reached 75°C during our tests, which is really quite high - so much so that I'd recommend active cooling of this board's chipset. As far as future cooling support, the board sports three fan headers, only one of which allows RPM control, assuming you have a four-pin cooler.
MSI offers an extensive utility suite with their Platinum series motherboards, which includes:
MSI Core Center
This is a handy tool to monitor system status, as well as allow for overclocking and over voltage within Windows, which is useful for the tweakers out there. Temperature and fan speed alarms can be adjusted.
This is a program that offers a bunch of diagnostics in addition to scheduled power on/power down functionality. Interesting stuff, I don't think I'd use it on a regular basis, but it doesn't hurt to have it.
MSI Password Keeper
This is a simple utility to store passwords and related information. Its usefulness is limited by the fact that it has to be installed - so it can't be run off of something convenient like a USB stick or something similar. Also, the program can be run without a password, which not so great for a program that stores passwords. But for a free utility, the price is right.
A tool to lock the PC. Unfortunately, it can be subverted very easily by someone who knows what they're doing - you can press ctrl+alt+del to open the task-manager and kill the process. So you're better off using the locker utility built into Windows if you're serious about security.
MSI Live Monitor
This program will monitor for updates to the BIOS, drivers, and utilities over the Internet. When we used it, LiveUpdate didn't show a new BIOS was available for the board, and the MSI Taiwan website wasn't working during testing on Friday 08/18/2006. ON a side note, the German and US MSI websites also showed no new BIOS available.
Like other premium offerings from MSI, the BIOS has been modified to incorporate MSI's proprietary 'Cell Menu', which sports extra settings for overclocking enthusiasts such as dynamic overclocking, bus and memory clock control, PCIe clock control and voltage control. It sounds special, but most of these settings are covered in the standard BIOS' offered with the other motherboards in this review. The Cell Menu just makes it a bit easier for newbies, allowing the user to overclock by a small percentage instead of by tweaking various settings.
MSI also offers a K9N Diamond with the nForce 590 SLI chipset that supports SLI operation with two Nvidia video cards at PCIe x16 speeds.
slide show: MSI K9N Platinum