P45 Showdown - Asus P5Q Deluxe vs MSI P45 Diamond

P45 Diamond - Packaging & Contents

MSI P45 Diamond
 
In stark contrast to the P5Q Deluxe, the MSI box dwarfs that of its Asus rival: the package is twice as thick! The front of the box signifies that this is without doubt a board directly aimed at the gaming enthusiast, with a picture of some sort of alien being. If that wasn't enough to give you a hint of the potential, then the 'G' - Gaming series emblem is also printed next to a '45nm ready' logo.
 
 MSI P45 Diamond Box Front MSI P45 Diamond Box Open
 
The box itself is not in a 'chrome-esque' style like the Asus, but is reflective and very well presented. Popping the lid via Velcro fasteners we see what features MSI want us to know about including Green Power, Xpress Cool and Rapid Boost, which make up the second generation 'DrMOS'. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect besides being P45 is the inclusion of a watercooled Northbridge, which the inside panel explains in detail (and which I will cover later). Below this is a cut out section showing the Circu-Pipe block and South bridge cooling. Last of all, MSI show off their X-FI based sound card which is a huge advance from onboard audio and a great inclusion to a motherboard directed at gamers.

MSI P45 Diamond Board MSI P45 Diamond Accessories
 
Top left we see the mainboard itself. When unpacking the box, I was shocked to see that the mainboard sat inside a plastic cradle, but the 'lid' was simply a piece of foam. Even though the board reached us in perfect condition, I would like to have seen some better protection for the hardware than this. The board itself has the usual array of MSI colouration, which isn't very well coordinated and, dare I say it, quite gaudy looking. Looks aren't everything though, and despite the technicolour board your eyes will be immediately drawn to the Circupipe cooler on top of the Northbridge.
 
Along with the waterblock itself, there is also an extended section to further dissipate heat that is once more attached via heatpipe to the Mosfets and Southbridge, making for a very efficient cooling setup presuming the waterblock is up to the task. MSI have not included a third PCIe x16 slot, which makes sense as there is little need for more than two currently on a Crossfire board, that is unless you fancy a dabble with say a dedicated RAID card.

Now here was where I was impressed. Inside the box was a separate box, and at first I thought MSI had sent us two motherboards. However, on opening this second box I was greeted with a whole host of goodies (above right). Here is where the MSI has put the Asus to shame. The multitude of manuals, driver disks, and connectivity, not to mention the riser X-FI sound card makes the MSI immediately appealing, but I am not going to be swayed by bribes just yet so I will swiftly move onto the board in detail.
 
MSI P45 Diamond CPU Area MSI P45 Diamond Circu-pipe
 
Above left we see that MSI have chosen not to cram the CPU socket area with chokes, using just a 6 power phase design. The uppermost mosfet heatsink is also not connected to the mean heatpipe assembly, but the area is less cluttered than the Asus so there should be no trouble for fitting a large HSF. However, I somewhat doubt that a HSF would be used on the CPU if you intend on watercooling the NB, which brings me onto the jewel in MSI's crown. The bizarre roller coaster CircuPipe designs previously had to rely on good airflow in a case, but MSI are now introducing a watercooling block which comes pre-attched to the Northbridge. I'll cover this in greater detail when we get to the features section but it certainly looks the business.
 
MSI P45 Diamond I/O Ports MSI P45 Diamond Switches
 
Above left we see the backplate area. While not as tidy as the Asus, there are an additional 2 USB ports and an extra eSATA compared to the 6+1 Asus provide, so MSI are forgiven in that respect.  Interestingly there is a CMOS clear button on the backplate, which should be standard on all enthusiasts boards now in my humble opinion, so credit to MSI for this inclusion and shame on you Asus for its omittance. Following on from the back plate we see the addition of a few more 'buttons', 2 of which I know are a power on/off and reset switch. The third? Well, there is no description of it in the motherboard manual apart from SW2, so maybe it's a self destruct button, maybe powers a GPU ejector seat...I'll give it a go later in the review and let you know if our testing rig survives the ordeal. 
 
Let's move on to the features of the MSI P45 Diamond...
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Most Recent Comments

27-05-2008, 08:16:41

JN
"With Intels latest chipset about to be officially launched we have managed to grab two P45 samples and pitch them against one another to see who is top dog."

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...130043211l.jpg

Asus P5Q Deluxe vs MSI P45 Diamond Review by Webbo

27-05-2008, 09:11:35

PV5150
Stellar review as always Jim. The ASUS P5Q appears to have the goods where it counts although the MSI P45 Diamond is well laid out - bar the colour scheme.

Well done

27-05-2008, 10:32:12

ionicle
good review

gotta love the mass of extra's you get with the msi

but i've worked with msi's before, they're great stable boards, at stock...or when overclocked, its just so frustrating if you want to overclock, hense why i left my proccy stock when i had my P975x platinum...lol

gotta love the ease of overclocking with asus

27-05-2008, 14:21:42

FarFarAway
Great review Rich

Not sure about the conclusion although I agree about the overclocking. If the MSI board is a good price then with the extra's it's a definate contender

29-05-2008, 09:29:35

CERO
This board could be the new price performance king according to the early prices some shops got listed, espacially with the 2 x 8 Xfire implented this could be a great replacement for my current P5K Deluxe, tempting

29-05-2008, 10:25:52

Kerotan
Good review. Does anyone know if the mid-range P45 boards will support x8 + x8 XFire or if it's just on the high-end ones? I'm glad P45 is coming out soon, hopefully be able to combine it with a good PCI-e 2.0 card once all the new ones come out and settle down in price.

29-05-2008, 10:27:12

CERO
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kerotan'
Good review. Does anyone know if the mid-range P45 boards will support x8 + x8 XFire or if it's just on the high-end ones? I'm glad P45 is coming out soon, hopefully be able to combine it with a good PCI-e 2.0 card once all the new ones come out and settle down in price.
All P45 based chipsets will support x8 + x8 :up:, just like the X38 and X48

29-05-2008, 10:33:43

Kerotan
Good to know, leaves me with some options open if I ever decide to go dual-card and get a bigger monitor Seems like sckt775 is going out on a high- even once intel stop making new proccys for it, it will still probably be a competitor for the next couple of years at least.

31-05-2008, 04:47:21

Yeungster
Great review! Really interesting read!

There's a slight mistake on one of the graphs on page 8, with the numbers, and also a reference to a picture of the asus mobo early on in the review, but it hardly matters as the review was concise and thorough. Thanks

01-06-2008, 04:30:55

w3bbo
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='PV5150'
Stellar review as always Jim. The ASUS P5Q appears to have the goods where it counts although the MSI P45 Diamond is well laid out - bar the colour scheme.

Well done
Glad to see you can't see the difference between Jim's and my own work. Yeah the MSI is very well laid out apart from the jumpers. Both are very neat and tidy boards. Regarding the colour scheme, I guess it depends on if you like a 'pink slot' or a yellow one (for your memory).

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='ionicle'
good review

gotta love the mass of extra's you get with the msi

but i've worked with msi's before, they're great stable boards, at stock...or when overclocked, its just so frustrating if you want to overclock, hense why i left my proccy stock when i had my P975x platinum...lol

gotta love the ease of overclocking with asus
Yup the Asus was the 'easier' overclocker by far but I believe the MSI could be pushed further with more time fiddling with the subsettings, as could the Asus so both boards are respectable in that department.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
Great review Rich

Not sure about the conclusion although I agree about the overclocking. If the MSI board is a good price then with the extra's it's a definate contender
HAHA! To be fair Jim did alot of editing to the review and smartening it up so it's only fair he gets some credit for it (Cheers Jim!) as I was up until 2a.m getting the main bulk of it done the day before I was due to go on holiday so Jim came to my rescue!

Yeah the MSI would have to come in at a good price for me to consider it and as stated in the review I would personally consider buying a separate block for the northbridge if watercooling (which will add to the cost).

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='CERO'
This board could be the new price performance king according to the early prices some shops got listed, espacially with the 2 x 8 Xfire implented this could be a great replacement for my current P5K Deluxe, tempting
I was surprised how well the 8x8 performed tbh. I honestly thought it would throttle the 3870x2's with them having 2 GPU's each but they were fine. I doubt anyone specifically looking for a xfire board will go for P45 but the option is there for upgrading your GPU grunt if P45 is gonna be your next board.

01-06-2008, 11:20:46

NickS
Great review . I dunno about the overclocking issues with the MSI though, my P35 based MSI OC'ed just as easy if not easier than my P5B Deluxe WiFi/AP. The jumpers can be a bit finnicky though, I will say that.

01-06-2008, 14:40:19

WC Annihilus
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
HAHA! To be fair Jim did alot of editing to the review and smartening it up so it's only fair he gets some credit for it (Cheers Jim!) as I was up until 2a.m getting the main bulk of it done the day before I was due to go on holiday so Jim came to my rescue!
He wasn't the only one >.>

01-06-2008, 17:30:46

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='WC Annihilus'
He wasn't the only one >.>
Ye props to WC for "the final cut"

01-06-2008, 17:48:11

w3bbo
Cheers for the help WC

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='NickS'
Great review . I dunno about the overclocking issues with the MSI though, my P35 based MSI OC'ed just as easy if not easier than my P5B Deluxe WiFi/AP. The jumpers can be a bit finnicky though, I will say that.
Cheers Nick! The main issue I had was not the difficulty in the bios itself, despite it being a little unfamiliar and an odd layout. It was the fact that when a bad overclock was set a CMOS reset was required. While hardly a big deal it was a pain to go through and set everything up again rather than just change the bad overclocked settings. It just felt as though the Asus had a wider margin for error and was more forgiving than the MSI.

05-06-2008, 15:18:18

darkone
so is it worth buying for an upgrade from an asus p5k-e wifi?

05-06-2008, 17:18:06

w3bbo
Yes.

27-08-2008, 01:44:47

yahyaue
Nice review, cudos to you Webbo. I was lost with this MSI P45 Diamond and have made a little headway by paying attention to your settings from the bios pic from the overclock you did to the P45 Diamond. Beforehand I could not make heads of tails with it. Wish I had seen your review 1st, but oh well I'm here now, I've developed patience after working with the EVGA 790i after 6 RMA's got a refund 'which I am still waiting on' got an Asus Striker II NSE 790i and I am very pleased, easy to work with.

Dahhh! so why get the MSI, wanted to try ATI based board and the DFI UT X48TR3 came 2 doa so Newegg gave me a refund and I bought the P45 Diamond.

You are right its a pain to clear C-mos and have to reset everything, found out you can turn it off 3-4 times waiting 10 second after shut down to power back up MB automatically picks up bad OC and you can keep your previous settings. I don't know which is the bigger headache.

Thanks for the review "GREAT WORK" webbo, jim and wc.

27-08-2008, 13:09:43

w3bbo
Thank you for the comments. It's always good to get some positive feedback aswell as the negative for reviews.
Reply
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