MSI P45 Platinum and Diamond Motherboards


A few months back, Intel released the P45 Chipset -- at the time it was considered to be their mainstream offering, playing second fiddle to the X48 Express.  With official support of a 1333MHz FSB, PCI-E 2.0, ATI CrossFire, and support for both DDR2 and DDR3 memory, there's a lot of roads to go down with the construction of one of these boards, and MSI went down all of them.  MSI fleshed out a complete top-to-bottom assortment of  boards, which means that they have a P45 motherboard that suits just about every potential buyer's needs.  Two of these, the P45 Diamond and P45 Platinum are found towards the top end of their food chain, and we'll be taking a look at them today.

The P45 Platinum ships in a grey box with a World of Warcraft inspired creature drawn on the cover clearly promoting this board as a gamer's choice.  It almost seems impossible, but the P45 Diamond arrives in an even deeper sized box than the P45 Platinum with a more menacing looking mythical character on the cover.  The front cover flaps open to show off two of the major differences between these MSI's boards: the Circu-Pipe Liquid cooler utilized on the Diamond as well as the SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio we first encountered on the P6N Diamond.  CPU Support is identical although the memory has been upgraded to list official support for up to 8GB of 1333 MHz DDR3 (with unofficial support up to 1600 MHz).

DrMOS and Greenpower technologies are also highlighted and further defined on the back.  DrMOS, short for Integrated Driver-MOSFET, refers to to low power loss MOSFETs used on these P45 boards that MSI claims helps them operate at a level of power efficiency up to 93.1%.  In a similar vein, Greenpower is an attempt at lowering power consumption by shutting down components, but only in junction with the Greenpower Genie (an optional component).  That's a small sample of what's to be found, but the following is a complete listing of specifications for the boards, with differences highlighted.

MSI P45 Platinum and Diamond Motherboards
Specifications and Features

• Supports Intel® Core 2 Extreme/Core 2 Quad/Core 2 Duo based processors in LGA775 package
• Supports Intel® Yorkfield, Wolfdale in the LGA775 package
• Supports FSB 1600* (OC)/1333/1066/800 MHz
• Support VRD 11.1 standard
• Intel® P45 Chipset
- Supports FSB 800/1066/1333/1600* (OC) MHz
• Intel® ICH10R Chipset
- Hi-Speed USB (USB2.0) controller, 480Mb/sec, up to 12 ports
- 6 SATAII ports with transfer rate up to 3Gb/s
- PCI Master v2.3, I/O APIC
- ACPI 2.0 compliant
- Serial ATA RAID 0/1/5/10
- Integrated AHCI controller

Front Side Bus
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz           

Main Memory
• Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 1.5 Volt DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600* (OC) SDRAM, 8GB Max (P45 Diamond)
• Supports four unbuffered DIMM of 1.8 Volt DDR2 800/1066*/1200* (OC) SDRAM, 16GB Max (P45 Platinum)

• One Ultra DMA 66/100/133 IDE controller integrated in JMicron® 363
- Supports PIO, Bus Master operation modes
- Can connect up to two Ultra ATA drives
• SATAII controller integrated in ICH10R/JMicron® 362/363 chipest
- Up to 3Gb/s transfer speed
- Supports six SATAII ports by ICH10R
- Supports two SATAII ports by JMicron 363, support SATA RAID 0/1/JBOD
- Supports one eSATA port by JMicron 362 (two eSATA ports on P45 Diamond)
- Supports AHCI controller with SATA RAID 0/1/5/10 by ICH10R

Expansion Slots
• Two PCI Express x16 slots (PCI Express Bus SPEC V2.0 compliant; supports CrossFire Technology)
- When using two PCIE x16 slots, the PCIE x16 lanes will auto arrange from x16/ x0 to x8 x8.
• Two PCI Express x1 slots. (support PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant)
• Two 32-bit v2.3 master PCI bus slots.
- Support 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface.

• Creative® SB X-Fi Xtreme H/W Audio Card (P45 Diamond)
- 24-bit / 96KHz audio quality
- 100dB SNR clarity
- Up to 7.1ch EAX 5.0 Surround Sound
• Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC888/888T (P45 Platinum)
- Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
- Compliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
- Meet Microsoft Vista Premium spce
- Supports VoIP Card (for ALC888T only)

• JMicron® 381 chipset (P45 Diamond), VIA® VT6308 chipset (P45 Platinum)
- Supports up to two 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, pinheader x1)
- Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps

• Supports PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Realtek 8111C

ATI CrossFire
Supports ATI CrossFire graphics cards (x8, x8)

On-Board Peripherals
• ATX 24-Pin power connector
• 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
• 4-pin ATX 12V VGA connector
• 5x FAN connectors
• Front panel connector
• 1x chasis intrusion connector
• 1x serial port pinheader
• 3x USB 2.0 connectors (2x on P45 Diamond)
• 1x Floppy disk drive connector
• 8x Serial ATAII connectors
• 1x ATA133 connector
• 2x HW-OC FSB jumpers 
• 1x GreenPower Genie connector
• 1x Reset Button
• 1x Power Button
• 1x TPM module connector 
• CD-in connector (P45 Platinum only)
• Front panel audio connector (P45 Platinum only)
• SPDIF-Out connector (P45 Platinum only)

Back Panel I/O Ports
• 1x Clear CMOS button
• 1x PS/2 Keyboard
• 1x PS/2 Mouse
• 1x eSATA port (2 ports on P45 Diamond)
• 1x IEEE1394 port
• 6x USB 2.0 ports (8 ports on P45 Diamond)
• 1x RJ45 LAN Jack (2 jacks on P45 Diamond)
• 1x 6-in-1 audio jack (*P45 Platinum only)
• 1x Optical SPDIF-out (*P45 Platinum only)
     *P45 Diamond comes with X-Fi Audio card
• The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and
expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your
mainboard specifications.

• 30.5cm(L) x 24.5cm(W) ATX Form Factor
9 mounting holes

 MSI P45 Platinum Bundle Contents  MSI P45 Diamond Bundle Contents

An array of cables and brackets comes bundled with each motherboard.  Red, rounded IDE and floppy cables provide connections for older drive types, with SATA power cables and data cables making up the rest.  As there are six SATA connectors on board, MSI should have gone the extra distance to get two more cables into the Platinum package, as they had done with the Diamond.  External USB and Firewire ports come on a single bracket, as well as a CrossFire link cable, a labeled I/O shield, and the M-Connector - a ease-of-use adapter similar in name and function to ASUS' Q-Connector.  Separate discs with Vista and XP drivers as well as a HDD Backup disc provide the necessary installation software to be used with the manual. The media in the bundle remains mostly the same, with the inclusion of a disc of X-Fi drivers made specifically for the onboard chip found on MSI's motherboards.  Downloading a set of drivers from Creative's website simply will not do here.


The Diamond also ships with some additional pieces catering to its higher-end profile and price-point.  Here we found the optional Greenpower Genie included along with a cable for connecting the Genie to the board and a 24-pin power adapter.  Audio output comes from a new X-Fi Xtreme riser card, separating the circuitry from the motherboard and providing a "cleaner" sound.  Finally, to accommodate water cooling kits, the Diamond also comes with a Circu-Liquid adaptor kit, and finally an I/O shield with large IN and OUT holes for running hoses out to an external water-cooling kit. 

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