Articles: Mainboards

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Our regular readers know that the first review to open the series of articles devoted to LGA1366 mainboards was the one devoted to Gigabyte solutions for Intel Core i7 processors: GA-EX58-UD5 and GA-EX58-Extreme. However, not many of you know that the very first mainboard on Intel X58 Express chipset that arrived into our lab was MSI Eclipse. We got it back in November 2008, shortly after the new chipset and processors had been officially launched. Don’t you think it is strange that over six months have passed and multiple reviews devoted to new Intel platform have been posted, but there is still no MSI Eclipse mainboard review on our site? However, there won’t be one at all, at least not of the MSI Eclipse mainboard that we have in our possession. The thing is that unfortunately we came across a number of serious issues when we checked out our particular MSI Eclipse sample. In fact, it is quite normal: new processors, new mainboards, new technologies, new operation and overclocking specifics… Any of the reasons mentioned above and certainly all of them combined could cause problems during first encounter. However, all these reasons didn’t prevent us from completing the tests of Gigabyte boards that arrived into our lab just a little later. And although we had gone back to MSI Eclipse multiple times, we still couldn’t get it to work properly that is why we gave up. Looks like it was a too early sample or we may have been unlucky to have got a defective MSI Eclipse right from the start.

The reason why we remembered about all these circumstances today is because we got our hands onto a new MSI Eclipse Plus mainboard, which we are happy to discuss in our new review. It differs from the predecessor not only by the “Plus” in its model name: it looks different, boasts a number of additional features and most importantly works way better. We would like to start, as usual, with the closer look at the board and accessories.

Package and Accessories

The box that MSI Eclipse Plus mainboard comes in looks quite common for a flagship solution. It is pretty deep, has a convenient carry handle, and a decorative front panel that can be flipped open to reveal some mainboard components through clear windows. At first we only see a colorful box, and then find the mainboard and bundled accessories in two separate packages inside the box.

We have already come across similarly designed packaging multiple times before, however, I personally was extremely pleased to see that the two internal boxed containing the board and the bundled accessories were made from regular brown cardboard instead of the white laminated one. Maybe they were simply trying to lower the production costs this way, but I think that besides purely pragmatic reasons, they are also trying to be more environment-friendly.

The list of accessories bundled with MSI Eclipse Plus mainboard is longer than usual and includes the following items:

  • Eight SATA cables with metal clips and four power adapters for SATA devices;
  • A bracket with two USB ports;
  • A set of brackets and cables for external Serial ATA devices;
  • Three bridges for CrossFire graphics configurations;
  • Two short and one long bridges for SLI graphics configurations;
  • M-Connectors set of six connectors for quick and easy connection of front panel buttons and indicators, sound, IEEE1384 and USB;
  • I/O Shield for the case back panel.

Besides that, there is also a lot of technical documentation:

  • User’s manual;
  • A brochure with brief assembly and installation instructions in 30 (!) languages and a large colorful poster with additional recommendations;
  • DVD disk with drivers and software;
  • Boot-up CD disk with HDD Backup program;
  • HDD Backup manual;
  • Overclocking guide.

In fact, I listed far not all the accessories, but we are going to get back to those few that I didn’t mention yet later in our review.

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