MSI P6N Diamond - NV680i with X-Fi Audio

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Performance Summary & Conclusion


 

Performance Summary:  The nForce 680i SLI-based P6N Diamond performed on par with two Intel P965 boards, one from Asus and the other from MSI itself.  While synthetic testing was a bit scattered, with scores falling on all sides of the spectrum, real-world tests especially in regards to gaming frame rates really showed off the P6N Diamond's potential.  Gamers will also appreciate the onboard X-Fi Xtreme audio, as it has a negligible impact on performance while providing all of the goodies such as EAX support and 7.1 channel output.  

As we noted earlier, the late release date of the MSI P6N Diamond could have a dampening effect on its overall sales.  The architecture of the nForce 680i SLI is centered around PCI Express 1.1 and DDR2, which are still the norm, but enthusiasts looking towards the future with PCI Express 2.0 and DDR3 memory on their mind may look into some of Intel's recent forays instead.  Additionally, if overclocking your system is a must, then the P6N Diamond might come across as a bit of a disappointment.  We were able to get past the weak overclock we achieved on MSI's P965 Platinum, but hit a brick wall in the upper 300's on the FSB, where additional voltages and tweaking seemed to have no effect and we fell short of our goal set earlier on the Asus P5B-E.

On the other hand, this board is so chock full of added extras, it's really hard to overlook it as a prime candidate for anyone looking to build a system today.  It has all of the basics we've come to expect, such as onboard LAN, multiple USB ports, and support for Intel's industry-leading Core 2 Duo and Quad CPUs.  What pushes this board to the lead of the pack is the inclusion of a Creative X-Fi based audio solution as well as RAID and the potential for quad-card SLI configurations.  The integrated X-Fi Xtreme audio was nearly as good as an after market card, delivering quality playback and recording at levels just under that of the X-Fi Fatal1ty (which, by the way, cost us over $200 just a year and a half ago).

Factoring everything built into the P6N Diamond, one might expect to find a hefty price tag attached to it.  It does command a price of nearly $240, but that's actually less than some of the competition, including the ASUS Striker Extreme and DFI NF-680iLT.  If you consider the price of an additional X-Fi card, it makes the P6N Diamond's price seem even better.  If MSI can tweak the BIOS further to improve overclocking, we just might be looking at one of the best 680i boards out there.

 

  • Creative Labs X-Fi Audio
  • Four PEG Slots
  • Hardware RAID
  • Great Gaming Performance 
  • Overclocking
  • Aging nForce 680i chipset 
  • Tight clearance around CPU socket

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Tags:  MSI, Audi, Audio, X-Fi, MS, diamond, 680, AM

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