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The cooler on the chipset looks like a glorified graphics card cooler from five years ago – it’s not the best design I have come across. However, it is at least quiet. That said, this is probably a moot point considering that an SLi machine will be filled to the brim with high-end and potentially loud components. There are space limitations, but this is a problem that all SLi boards will suffer from in one way or another.
Talking about coolers, if you use the extra fan for the Active MOS 2 you’re left with only two fan headers, which should suffice, but it’s hardly generous.
One final clever feature is a small push button next to the battery. This is used to clear the CMOS instead of a jumper, but it’s worth being careful when plugging in the SATA connectors as the switch can be pressed accidentally when the topmost SATA cable is attached.
The K8N Diamond does, of course, support all the nForce 4 features such as nVRAID and firewall functionality on the nVidia Ethernet controller. Just make sure that if you want to use the firewall that you plug the network cable in to the right connector, as the second Gigabit Ethernet controller doesn’t work with the nVidia firewall.
MSI has also created the Diamond club, which you can register with as an owner of a Diamond board. Every Diamond product comes with a membership number that allows you to register on the Diamond Club website. Here you’ll get access to a specific Diamond forum where MSI techies will be on hand to answer all your questions. You’ll also be able to download the latest BIOS updates, and take advantage of special offers.
The K8N Diamond was tested with two MSI GeForce 6600GT PCI Express graphics cards as we were unable to source anything faster at the time of testing. Pairing this with an FX55 processor should have eliminated any possible CPU bottlenecks.
Looking at the benchmarks it’s clear that SLi does have an impact on game performance - in the games that are supported of course. This is the biggest downside with SLi at the moment, as it only works with titles listed on nVidia’s website. Unreal Tournament 2004 doesn’t work in SLi so we couldn’t use it as a benchmark. I was however informed by Adam Foat at nVidia that the driver development team is working hard to create a new set of drivers which will add support for many more games.
The performance increase that SLi adds is also very dependant on the game. In Far Cry at 1,024 x 768 the result was higher using a single card rather than the SLi setup, while in Doom 3 SLi gave an increase of 25fps at the same setting. We have compared all the benchmarks in SLi to those of a single 6600GT card so you can see clearly how much of a performance boost you’re getting.
With a SYSMark 2004 score of 199 this is a pretty fast board even when you’re not using it for playing games and the PCMark 2004 scores back this up.
Overall the MSI K8N Diamond is an impressive product, although this is the first SLi motherboard to appear in the TrustedReviews lab, more boards will follow shortly. Of course, new technology never comes cheap, with the top of the range version coming in at £169.98. But if you want to save some cash, MSI also offers a cheaper option without the WiFi/Bluetooth card, but we’d definitely go for the feature packed model.
The MSI K8N Diamond doesn’t come cheap, but you wouldn’t expect it to, with such a wide range of excellent features on offer. This is a great motherboard for the gaming enthusiast - just make sure that you have enough cash left over for those graphics cards.
To clarify things, MSI offer two versions of this board, one with and one without the wireless card, so please make sure you order the right board. The price is lower for the version without the wireless card and this is the easiest way to spot the difference.