If MSI has anything to say about it, 2006 will be very different from last year. 2005 was not exactly a good year for MSI, in that its rivals were able to grab the headlines for the most part thanks to their technological innovations. To make sure that history doesn't repeat itself, MSI is starting the new year with fresh vigor, sending us their latest Socket 939 mainboard for review. We can say this much up front: the superlatives in the product name are entirely deserved!
Over the last year, several companies have been able to make a name for themselves with their Athlon 64 SLI mainboards. Arguably, the two companies that were able to build the best reputations in this market were Asus with the A8N-SLI line, and DFI with their highly overclockable LAN-Party models. However, neither company was shy about pricing their offerings accordingly high.
While others also offered competitive products, they also felt the intense pressure of a highly competitive market. For example, Abit's day-to-day business is governed more by financial woes than by product launches. ECS and Winfast (Foxconn) still have a ways to go before they become the household names they're aspiring to become. Finally, although Biostar also launched several new products last fall, their market penetration has not been up to expectations, aside from the developing market in Brazil. Aside from Asus, only Gigabyte was able gain market share, thanks to a number of innovations.
With its new K8N Diamond Plus, MSI is now aiming to re-establish itself as a dominant force, hoping to bypass Gigabyte and thereby position itself as the number two company after Asus. To this end, our review sample came with a 31-page PowerPoint presentation, meant to ensure that both potential buyers and the press are made aware of even the most minute details about this new product.
MSI clearly aims the K8N Diamond Plus at the 3D gaming market. The board offers SLI support - including two PCI Express slots with 16 lanes each - above-average overclocking options, as well as an audio subsystem meant to blow the competition out of the water.