975X Express Motherboard Round-Up: Foxconn, Abit, and MSI
MSI 975X Platinum v2: The Motherboard
At first glance, the MSI 975X Platinum v2 appears to be somewhat cramped and relatively busy, but in actuality MSI did a pretty good job with the 975X Express v2's layout.
We did find the placement of a couple of power-related connectors questionable, however. For example, the 24-pin ATX connector is in a good position, situated among the floppy and IDE ports, just behind the board's four DIMM slots. The supplemental 8-Pin ATX power connector in addition to an additional 4-pin Molex accessory power connector, however, are located just above the first PEG slot, right in between the Northbridge heatsink and rear I/O backplane. This isn't a major issue, but the placement of these connectors forces users to drape cables almost directly over the CPU socket, which could hinder air-flow a bit.
Other than questionable power connector placement, the 975X Platinum v2's layout is good. All of the expansion headers are color-coded and clearly labeled, and as an added bonus MSI has done away with clear-CMOS jumper in favor of a BIOS reset button that's located on the edge of the PCB. Anyone who hates squeezing their hands in a system in a futile effort to remove a tiny jumper will appreciate this feature. The chipset is passively cooled by a pair of copper heatsinks, but the components in the VRM are bare.
Audio is implemented on the board via a Realtek ALC882M (8-channel) HD CODEC, and Gigabit Ethernet comes by way of a an Intel PC82573L controller. Unlike the other boards in this round-up, the 975X Platinum v2 doesn't sport dual-LAN jacks. The board has two PCI Express x16 slots, two PCI Express x1 slots, and two standard PCI Slots, and fully supports CrossFire. It also has a total of five SATA ports and two IDE Channels. We should also note that because this board sports the ICH7DH (Digital Home) Southbridge, it is VIIV compliant.
The 975X Platinum's rear I/O cluster is home to PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, serial and parallel ports, a single Firewire port, four USB 2.0 ports, a single RJ45 GigE LAN jack, and seven audio related jacks including coaxial S/PDIF. As we've already mentioned, no dual-LAN here, and no eSATA either - two things that help keep the price of this board relatively low as far as 975X Express-based mobos go.