MSI K9N SLI Platinum nForce 570 SLI Motherboard

Board Layout


Board Layout

The K9N SLI Platinum has a sleek black PCB paired with some silver colored aluminum heatsinks which make the board stand out compared to similarly priced platforms, although the board doesn't put too much effort into aesthetics. Fairly standard stuff here, the board runs off a standard ATX form factor design and requires a 24-pin primary ATX connector with a 4-pin secondary +12V ATX connector. There is also an additional 4-pin Molex connector designed to provide extra power for those running SLI configurations, but this is not a requirement. 

Board View - Left

Board View - Right

The board supports all grades of Socket-AM2 processors, ranging from inexpensive Sempron processors to the more mainstream Athlon64 / X2 chips, and even the high-end Athlon64 FX (only the AM2 variants, not the newer Socket-1207 versions) and Socket-AM2 based Opteron 100-series processors. The board comes with the Socket-AM2 heatsink retention system pre-installed, and MSI leaves a good amount of space around the CPU socket for larger coolers. There is a set of capacitors to the left of the socket, however, which could lead to some issues with extremely large coolers. In addition, MSI places the +12V ATX connector oddly underneath the CPU socket and over the primary PCI Express x16 slot, which means you have to run a cable to this hard to reach area. This could have been placed in a better location. There is a lightweight aluminum heatsink which sits on top of the motherboard's VRM components, which can get insanely hot with high-end processors and/or overclocking. This heatsink will also receive residual airflow from the nearby CPU cooler.

The board is equipped with 4 x DDR2 DIMM sockets capable of supporting up to 8GB of memory. Since the memory sockets connect to the processors' integrated dual channel memory controller, the memory limitations are identical to that of other Socket-AM2 systems. Peak bandwidth levels at 12.8 GB/s when using dual-channel DDR2-800 memory modules.

The nForce 570 SLI chip sits in-between the two PCI Express x16 slots and is cooled by a short, but wide passive cooling system. The cooler which sits on the 570 SLI has a copper base connected to aluminum alloy fins for heat dissipation. The cooler can get extremely hot, especially with two hot graphics cards sitting on either side of it. However, we did not experience any heat-related issues here. As we mentioned, the cooler is passive, so there are no fans or chances of fan failure during the later lifespan of the board. Interestingly enough, once the cooler is removed, you can see space on the motherboard for an entire other chip underneath - with the 570 board, MSI simply fills this extra space between the PCB and the cooler with a thermal pad, helping to remove heat on the PCB near the 570 SLI chip. 

Underneath the cooler lies the nForce 570 SLI.

The nForce 570 SLI is a single-chip solution, providing connectivity for the PCI Express x16 graphics card slots in addition to PCI, SATA, USB, and other chipset-level items. Since the 570 SLI is a single chip solution, this cuts down on costs, power consumption, and heat compared to the nForce 590 SLI, which is a dual-chip solution.

The big drawback in comparison to the high-end nForce 590 SLI is that the nForce 570 SLI only supports 28 lanes of PCI Express connectivity, which means this motherboard cannot run "true" 16 x 16 SLI configurations. Each PCI Express x16 slot must share 16 lanes of bandwidth, which means when two graphics cards are installed; each PCI Express x16 "sized" slot will run at x8 bandwidth levels. However, we have yet to see any instances where a modern graphics card will run significantly faster on PCI Express x16 rather than PCI Express x8, although some enthusiasts will undoubtedly feel miffed if they know their shiny new PCIe graphics cards are only running at half-bandwidth levels. Even dual-GPU cards like the GeForce 7950 GX2 showed virtually no performance difference when run in a PCIe x8 slot rather than a PCIe x16. 

Dual PCI Express x16 Slots

SLI Bridge and Additional Airflow Bracket

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