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MSI P45 Platinum Print
Written by Scott Harness   
Friday, 01 August 2008
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MSI P45 Platinum
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thumb.JPGMSI P45 Platinum

The P45 chipset has arrived to take the reins from the P35 chipset. MSI's latest still uses the cheaper DDR2, allowing you to get the most from the new without the need to stop using the old.


Intel's chipsets of late have been pretty damn good. Coupled with motherboard manufacturers being on the ball with lots of new and interesting ideas and features to go with them, it's been a great few years for the Intel chipset end user. Plenty of choices for all budgets too; you don't have to worry if your budget is small as you can be pretty assured of getting a decent board for little outlay. Deep pockets? Lots to choose from as well.

For this review, we have the . The P45 chipset, rather than being evolutionary or revolutionary compared to the P35 it replaces, is more of a natural progression. Performance should be similar if not identical to the P35, so this means motherboard manufacturers will need to grab our attention in other ways as there are some outstanding P35 boards on the market. certainly aim to do that with their P45 Platinum right from the get go, so let's get stuck in and see what have done with to entice us.


Form Factor
30.5cm(L) x 24.5cm(W) ATX
Supports Intel® Core 2 Extreme/Core 2 Quad/Core 2 Duo, Intel® Yorkfield, Wolfdale
Intel P45
Supports FSB 1600* (OC)/1333/1066/800 MHz
Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 1.8 Volt DDR2 800/1066* (OC)/1200* (OC) SDRAM, 16GB Max
Expansion Slots
Two PCI Express x16 slots, Two PCI Express x1 slots, Two 32-bit v2.3 master PCI bus slots
PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Realtek 8111C
One Ultra DMA 66/100/133 IDE (JMicron® 363),six SATAII by ICH10R (RAID 0/1/5/10), two SATAII by JMicron 363, one eSATA by JMicron 362.
Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC888/888T 8-channel audio
8x USB 2.0, 2x IEEE1394, 1x SPDIF out, 1x Serial Port header, 1x eSATA, PS/2 Mouse and keyboard ports
M-Connectors, DrMOS, GreenPower, XpressCool, RapidBoost, Circu-Pipe 2, OC Jumpers, Solic Capacitors, Shielded Chokes, Crossfire X, Dual Core Center

There are a few points that the Specifications don't cover. The first is MSI's new DrMOS and GreenPower, aimed at increasing power efficiency and lowering power usage. The P45 Platinum has some ye olde overclocking jumpers which allow you to increase the base FSB via hardware; personally I think this will be a little used feature by most. Enough time has passed that this would seem like a new feature to many, but the old(er) folks will remember these from days gone by when New Kids On The Block were cool. Like NKOTB, they should have probably remained in the past. That said, MSI's RapidBoost feature used in conjunction with the jumpers might better justify their inclusion. The MSI P45 Platinum is of course based on the P45 chipset and MSI did make a promise about their P45 boards a little while ago. Assuming that nothing has changed, MSI plan on releasing an updated UEFI BIOS for it's P45 boards sometime within the next few months. The entire board uses Japanese solid aluminum capacitors, and the North Bridge and Memory is regulated by a two phase setup, with a five phase setup for the CPU. We'll go into more details as we get to those points as I'm sure some of you are wondering about the five phase setup if nothing else.




The P45 Chipset itself, as I said before, really hasn't changed much from the P35, but it does have a couple of new features worth noting. The first is that unlike the P35, the P45 can run 16x4 or 8x8 Crossfire setups. Of course, Asus already did this on the P35 with their Crosslinx chip, but none the less it's good to have it natively. Secondly, the P45 has support for 4GB memory modules. Yeah, 16GB of ram sounds good to me too.

box box box box box

Right from the beginning we can see that MSI have ditched the traditional motherboard box in favor of the increasingly popular box-in-a-box with a handle. There is a definite gamer theme to be seen all over the box, and MSI have indeed branded the P45 Platinum as part of their Gaming Series of hardware. Ignoring the eye catching but large ugly medieval alien on the front cover, the real information is to hand on the rear of the box. MSI make big on their 'green-ness' with information on power efficiency and usage. Also detailed is their updated Circu-pipe cooling system as well as Overclocking and Crossfire information. Inside, an inner box holds all the goodies.

contents contents contents

MSI supply quite a few extras with the P45 Platinum, some expected, some unexpected and some completely new (for MSI). Cabling is supplied, IDE, Floppy and SATA, as well as power adapters for SATA. A PCI Slot USB and Firewire bracket rounds out the things with cables. A Crossfire bridge is supplied as well as a packet with 6 M-Connectors, which lets you plug in your front panel/USB/Firewire/Other small pins into the connectors rather than directly into the board; you then plug the connectors into the board without the hassle of trying to fit multiple small pins into an already installed motherboard. MSI include enough connectors for all the pin outs on the motherboard.


A quick start guide as well as a manual are supplied, and separate driver disks for XP and Vista. Another new entry for MSI in the software department is a HDD backup software disk (and pamphlet manual for it).

mobo mobo mobo

Moving on to the board itself, we can see at a glance that things have changed from previous boards. We still have an elaborate heat-pipe cooling setup but we can instantly see plenty of room around the CPU socket. The new cooling setup does hide from view the P8 Aux power connector which is tucked away up top of the board.

Ram slots, and MSI have finally adopted the same coloring scheme as everyone else. Thank you MSI, it finally makes instant sense. Ironically, I had to check the manual to see if what was printed on the board was correct. 24 pin power is also in this area as is the floppy port should you need it.

sata sata

Moving down we find six side facing SATA ports, and a singular side facing IDE port. Just behind them are two surface mounted SATA ports, powered by my old nemesis, the Jmicron controller. The battery has both the obligatory CMOS reset jumper and a surface mounted button. Also here is a surface mounted power button, which when you're fiddling around inside the case comes in very handy. I would have liked for them to have a bit clearer markings, perhaps different shaping to help indicate at a glance (inside a dark case) which is which but they function fine. Along the bottom are the color coded front panel, audio and USB pins.

The PCI area has two white PCI slots at the bottom, a secondary 4x PCIe (16x width) slot, two white 1x PCIe slots and the primary 16x PCIe slot. When it comes to Crossfire setups, the first PCIe 16x slot extends to dual 8x with the secondary slot for an 8x and 8x setup; a much better solution than 16x and 4x. You can also see a surface mounted female Molex, just in case your graphics card needs the extra power, but I doubt many folks will require it. Again, going with the simple 'at a glance' nature, the two graphic slots are both colored blue, but the primary is a slightly darker shade.

Just next to the twin PCIe 1x slots are a pair of jumpers which I touched on earlier in the introduction. These jumpers will allow you to hard set the starting FSB; 200 becomes 266, 266 becomes 333, 333 becomes 400. MSI also have a new feature known as RapidBoost, which is designed to help you get the highest overclock possible. RapidBoost has 2 modes; mode 1 will leave all of your hardware settings at default until your OS is loaded, thereby during overclocking hopefully getting past the whole “well I almost got to the Windows Welcome screen but then ...”. Mode 2 is similar but overclocks to 50% followed by 100% when the OS is loaded. This is where the hardware jumpers should come in, but in all honestly, I can't see why the RapidBoost system wouldn't be just as effective without the jumpers. The other thing is there positioning; with a graphics card or two in the system it's damn near impossible to get to them. MSI say that these jumpers should offer more stability when overclocking than BIOS settings, but I never saw any difference in that respect personally. Another hiccup here, I couldn't find the RapidBoost options in the BIOS at all.

cooling cooling cooling

Ok, let's get a look at the new Circu-pipe 2 cooling system. If anything, it's more aesthetically pleasing than before and certainly allows for a better motherboard layout. It does weigh a little bit however, but MSI have securely mounted the main cooling element to the board. Looks aside, there is five heatpipes and a lot of surface area so I'm anticipating some low temperatures from the board. In conjunction with the power efficiency of the MOSFET (DrMOS, -6W lower power than regular MOSFET) and the 2-phase power for the DIMM and Northbridge, temperatures should be well controlled. DrMOS is basically a combined twin MOSFET and Driver IC all rolled into the one chip, so power regulation phases are reduced down to five instead of the eight or more that has become common on other boards. These phase changes are adjusted by the GreenPower feature, and can be seen happening by the blue LED's on the motherboard. Speaking of which, the MSI P45 Platinum has more lights than my Christmas tree, but each of them indicates power regulation, usage or just simply power and are fully documented in the manual.

The I/O Panel looks a little sparse, but everything you could need in this day and age is there. PS2 ports for Keyboard and Mouse are far left, with four USB 2.0 ports (Twelve total on the board) above a Firewire, SP/DIF and eSATA (for a total of nine SATA ports). The little black dot next to the eSATA is a CMOS reset. A further two USB 2.0 ports and a Gigabit NIC follow, with the six standard color coded audio jacks far right.

Overall the MSI P45 Platinum is probably one of the best laid out boards we have seen from MSI. Things are uncrowded, nothing appears to interfere with the installation of anything else, and there is a lot of ease of use features included (power and reset buttons, properly color coded ram slots, rear CMOS reset). Cooling looks great and should perform really well. Coupled with a good BIOS I expect some good things when it comes to overclocking, so let's take a look at it shall we.

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