MSI X48 Platinum, Continued
A system status display near the lower rear corner is bright enough that some users will surely need sunglasses simply to determine what it says!
Photographic trickery was required simply to get a look at the device: we had to use camera flash to diminish the display's brightness, and then toned-down the "flash back" reflections of the circuits beneath using a photo editor.
MSI is the only brand in this comparison to provide a model with onboard power and reset buttons, which are perfect for bench-testing the board outside a case.
The buttons are so tiny that casual observers are unlikely to notice them. Some builders are very fond of internal buttons, but end users probably won't have much use for them once the X48 Platinum is installed into a case.
|MSI X48 Platinum (Revision)|
|Northbridge||Intel X48 Express MCH|
|Voltage Regulator||Eight Phases|
|333.3 MHz (FSB1333)||334.5 MHz (+0.035%)|
|Clock Generator||ICS 9LPRS910BKL|
|Connectors and Interfaces|
|Onboard||4x PCIe x16 (Two with x4 pathways)2x PCIe x11x PCI2x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)1x IEEE-1394 Header1x Serial Port Header1x Floppy1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)6x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s1x Front Panel Audio1x CD-Audio In1x VoIP interface connector2x Fan 4 pins (CPU/System)4x Fan 3 pins (System)1x Internal Power Switch1x Internal Reset Switch|
|IO panel||2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)2x RJ-45 Network8x USB 2.06x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In + Line-In)2x Digital Audio (S/P-DIF Optical+Coaxial)2x eSATA (External Serial ATA) interface1x CLR_CMOS Button|
|Mass Storage Controllers|
|Intel ICH9R||6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)|
|Marvell 88SE6111 PCI-E||1x Ultra ATA-100 (2-drives)2x SATA 3.0 Gb/s|
|Realtek RTL811B PCI-E||1x Gigabit LAN Connection|
|Intel 82566DC (GLCI) PHY||1x Gigabit LAN Connection|
|HDA (Azalia) Controller Interface||Realtek ALC888T 8+2 Ch. +VoIP Codec|
|VIA VT6308P||2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mbit/s)|
Unlike "everyone else" in today's comparison, MSI reserves its 8+2 channel codec for the more expensive "Diamond" series motherboards. The X48 Platinum's Realtek ALC888 codec is capable of 7.1-channel sound streams at a rated 97db signal-to-noise ratio, the same rating as the 8+2 channel multi-streaming ALC888T used in MSI's more expensive boards.
Also unlike its competitors, MSI takes advantage of Intel's integrated GLCI connection for one of its Gigabit Ethernet controllers. Doing so frees up a PCI Express pathway for other uses, without limiting the controller to PCI bandwidth.
PCI Express onboard devices include the Marvell 88SE6111 Ultra ATA plus SATA 3.0 Gb/s controller, and a second Gigabit Ethernet controller. The ICH9R Southbridge has but six PCI Express lanes, with the remaining four lanes dedicated to expansion slots.
MSI continues to use its strange-appearing USB riser on the rear panel, to support a total of eight USB 2.0 ports in addition to a single IEEE-1394 FireWire, two External SATA, and two RJ-45 network ports. The eSATA ports are particularly interesting, in that they tie to the Intel ICH9R controller, rather than the third-party Marvell controller.
Other rear panel features include PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, a digital optical audio output, six analog audio jacks, and a tiny CLR_CMOS button right in the middle. We found no method to disable the rear-panel CLR_CMOS button, so users will need to be particularly careful while inserting cable ends into the nearby USB and eSATA ports. Fortunately, the button is small enough to prevent "most" accidents.