Everyone was very much interested in Intel P45 Express based mainboards long before the actual chipset launch. News editors had been warning us that we shouldn’t expect any significant changes compared with the previous core logic sets. Pessimists gave a sign full of regret and decided to wait for the next generation of Intel processors for LGA 1366 and LGA 1160 form-factor with the corresponding mainboards. Optimists did in fact find a lot of good in the current state of things, because it meant that the mainboard makers would have to be creative to make us buy new Intel P45 Express based mainboards. They should most likely acquire some new interesting functionality, useful and purely marketing new technologies with beautiful names. Moreover, some information about new overclocking-friendly features of these boards that leaked from the mainboard developer labs seemed to make computer enthusiasts pretty excited already and they looked forward to checking them out in real life.
However the first mass production mainboards on Intel P45 Express created a very short-term excitement followed by slight disappointment. ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe/WiFi-AP @n and Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3 mainboards that we have already tested in our labs turned out just OK in terms of performance and functionality, but nothing beyond that. We didn’t feel ready to trade the good old mainboards in our systems for the new one. Today we have the opportunity to meet one more solution on the new Intel chipset from a well-known manufacturer – Micro-Star Company. However, before we start our discussion of the new MSI P45 Platinum, let’s take a quick look at the features and functionality of all solutions in the new MSI series.
Micro-Star Mainboard Family on Intel P45 Express
MSI P45 Neo is the youngest in the line-up. It is a common entry-level solution without any extras onboard:
Overclocking fans may be disappointed, but this board is not designed for them. It is targeted for office systems or simple home PC and meant to be installed into the system case, configured once and for all. COM and LPT ports on the connectors panel will ensure compatibility with older peripheral devices.
The mere looks of it suggest that MSI P45 Neo3 is more pretentious than the previous model: the chipset cooler uses heatpipes, there is an additional controller bringing additional Serial ATA ports (the board has 8 of them).
There are a few les noticeable changes. For instance, the chipset North Bridge voltage regulator circuitry is now dual-phase, all throttles are screened, only solid-state capacitors are used. A lot of PCI slots and the same connector panel as by the previous model ensure compatibility with old expansion cards and peripherals.