MSI 975X Platinum V.2 PowerUp Ed.
The Intel 975X chipset has been around for quite a while. It was launched by Intel back in October/November of last year. As far as a chipset goes, it's getting a little long in the tooth. Still, many enthusiast oriented motherboards for the Intel processors use the 975X chipset. Today we are looking at a board from MSI that uses the 975X chipset that is tuned for Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors as well as Crossfire graphics. This board is the 975X Platinum V.2 (aka. PowerUp Edition). We will be comparing this boards performance to a couple of boards based on the newer 965P chipset to see if older is better, or if improvements have been made in newer chipsets, leaving the 975X behind. Is the only reason to go with a 975X for Crossfire? Keep on reading.
This board ships in a much fancier box than MSI's Neo series of motherboards. The box is very attractive and boasts the features and specs of this board. The bottom of the box is littered with logos, features and proudly boasts the board's VIIV features.
MSI throws in a pretty decent bundle for the price range. Many other 975X boards cost $30-$50 more, so any accessories are welcome. They throw in a couple of single Molex to SATA power leads, a CPU insertion bracket thingy, an I/O shield, an 80-pin IDE cable, a Floppy cable, 4 SATA cables, a PCI slot Firewire bracket, as well as a PCI slot USB bracket with diagnostic LEDs. As far as paper and software go, they include a nicely written manual, a quick install guide, some warranty information and a CD with drivers and software. Not a bad bundle for a mainstream board. If they wanted to load things up, they could have included an extra PCI slot USB bracket, as there is another header on the motherboard. To fill up the drive connectors they'd need to include an extra SATA cable as well as an extra IDE cable. Most people won't be running 9 drives in their system though, and MSI includes enough cables for six.
Overall the board has a nice clean layout and isn't too crowded. The memory slots are right close together which makes cooling the RAM a little tougher when you are running 4 modules.
The board supports LGA775 Processors with 1066FSB including Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad CPUs. It also supports 8GB of memory, 2 IDE Channels that support 4 IDE devices, and 5 SATA drives as well. There are 2 PCIe 16x slots (run at 8x when both are used), 2 PCIe 1x slots, and two regular PCI slots. It also supports a total of 3 Firewire ports and 8 USB2.0. The BIOS is socketed so if you screw up a flash, you'll be able to drop in a new chip or use a BIOS Savior. As you can see above, MSI uses passive cooling to keep everything quiet. It will be interesting to see if this affects overclocking performance later on.
Carry on to the next page as we take a closer look at this board.