NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI Motherboard Round-Up
MSI K9N2 Diamond
The K9N2 Diamond is MSI's flagship socket AM2+ motherboard. Like the Asus M3N-HT Deluxe and CrossHair II Formula, the K9N2 Diamond supports 3-way SLI and exploits all of the features inherent to the nForce 780a SLI chipset, but MSI definitely took a different approach than Asus in the design of this board.
MSI includes a nice assortment of accessories with the K9N2 Diamond. Along with the board, MSI also throws in a variety of SATA and other drive cables, including an eSATA case bracket with power and data cables. The usual manuals, drivers, and custom I/O shield were included as well, along with a case bracket with additional USB and Firewire ports and a trio of soft SLI bridge connectors. Perhaps the most interesting accessory, however, was the MSI branded SoundBlaster X-Fi Extreme audio card. This MSI-branded X-Fi card uses the same native PCI Express CA0110 audio chip as Creative's X-Fi Extreme Audio retail cards.
The motherboard itself has a good layout with all of its major connectors and headers situated around the edges of the PCB and out of the way of the CPU socket. All of the headers are color coded and clearly labeled, which makes setup nice and easy, and cooling won't be an issue thanks to MSI's funky looking Circu-Pipe cooling apparatus. The Circu-Pipe links the chipset and VRM with an elaborate array of copper heatsinks and heatipes that end in a semi-circular array of fins just behind the I/O backplane. The board also features solid polymerized capacitors, which are more durable than mroe common electrolytic caps.
Due to the K9N2 Diamond's slot configuration, a standard hard 3-way SLI connector won't fit this motherboard should three 8800 / 9800 GTX cards be installed, but the included soft bridges can be used when connected in a particular crisscross pattern.
The MSI K9N2 Diamond's BIOS is fairly extensive and falls somewhere in between the M3N-HT Deluxe and CrossHair II Formula in terms of options. There are a myriad of overclocking related tools listed in the Cell Menu section of the BIOS, which include voltage, frequency and multiple adjustments, and options for tuning memory and integrated peripherals are available as well.