Test Motherboard: MSI P6N Platinum
MSI provided a P6N Platinum for this article. It utilizes the nForce 650i SLI chipset and targets the upper mainstream. Performance compares well and the board carries rich features: 4x SATA with RAID5 support, two UltraATA/100 channels for up to four legacy drives (e.g. hard drives or optical drives), Gigabit LAN, HD audio, a Firewire controller and an eSATA port for external high-speed storage devices.
MSI deploys a four-phase voltage regulator and solid capacitors. This is more than enough even for Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Extreme processors. The MOSFETs and the chipset components are cooled with a huge heat pipe, which isn't made of solid copper, but of painted aluminum. Yet it's effective: This motherboard is noiseless.
We did not quite understand why MSI made a step back and added a physical PCI Express selector instead of a software configuration option. This P6N Platinum overclocks well (FSB1550), but we've seen other products going far beyond that. Apart from these little thigs, this board looks cool and we consider nForce 650i SLI products to be a good deal for the $ 165 you have to invest.