MSI's Ready for PC2008


Planning for 2008

Planning for 2008

MSI was in town to promote its latest offerings and reveal some of its future plans for a number of products, ranging from its motherboards, graphics cards to its consumer notebooks. Organized jointly with the local distributor for MSI in Singapore, Corbell, this was an event that focused mainly on some of the recent, major platform developments in computing hardware, hence the Ready for PC2008 tagline.

 A decent crowd was at hand to witness MSI's new products. The audience included business partners, retailers and the media.

To kick start the presentations, we had a guest speaker from Intel to tell us more about the new 45nm CPUs (codenamed Penryn). This was a glimpse into the new enhancements that Intel has made to its successful Core microarchitecture in order to keep ahead of rival AMD. You can read all about these new 45nm processors in our previous coverage at IDF (including benchmarks). To support these upcoming processors, Intel has started to introduce its 'Bearlake' series of chipsets, known also as the P35 series and which will replace existing chipsets like the 965 and 975 series. For enthusiasts, the major talking point will be DDR3 support on these new 3 series motherboards, while mainstream consumers will likely benefit from the new HD and 3D video technologies (improved Clear Video, DirectX 10 support) found on the integrated graphics variant (G35 and G33 Express).

 The demonstration system used the new MSI P35 Platinum motherboard, paired together with a soon-to-be released GeForce 8600 GT Diamond Plus graphics card.

 There is sufficient allowance for larger and exotic CPU coolers despite the presence of MSI's Circu-Pipe heatsink.

 The rear I/O panel of the motherboard features an impressive array of ports, including eSATA and many many USB ports. Meanwhile, the GeForce 8600 GTS Diamond Plus card seems to be equipped with a HDMI output along with the common DVI-I output.

Naturally, MSI already has these P35 boards available and we have actually previewed them before here . There are three main models, the flagship P35 Platinum (which we just reviewed recently ), the P35 Neo Combo and the basic P35 Neo, differing in terms of features, e.g. the basic Neo model does not have DDR3 support. These boards were shown at the event and here are some shots:

 Only DDR2 support is available on the MSI P35 Neo but of course 45nm Intel CPU support is a given.

 The MSI P35 Neo Combo has both DDR2 and DDR3 support, for those who cannot decide between the two, or more likely, want a motherboard to last them for quite a few years.

  Finally, the highest end enthusiast oriented 'Bearlake' board from MSI, the P35 Platinum has a proprietary and quite fanciful passive heatsink design for the motherboard, known as the Circu-Pipe. This would be the copper twist and turns that you can see on this board.

MSI also had more to elaborate on the unique custom heatpipe based cooling system, the Circu-Pipe, found exclusively on the P35 Platinum. Interestingly, MSI told us that an upcoming model, the P35 Diamond comes with an integrated Skype-oriented hardware (dubbed Skytel), in the form of an add-on expansion card, which works in conjunction with Skype. Unfortunately, we did not see it at the event, but MSI's representative, Mr George Kao, told us that it could even make calls when the computer is turned off, since it can use the public phone network directly through the phone cable (much like your usual telephone).

Other tidbits include the fact that MSI uses an advanced 4-phase PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) system for its new P35 motherboards, which they claim is more than 80% efficient and leads to lower TDP for both the CPU and motherboard. Then, it was also revealed that MSI plans to have an Overclocking Jumper that allows enthusiasts to immediately overclock the FSB of the motherboard without going through the BIOS. The amount of overclock is referred to as a 'step up' and the example given had the FSB going from 200MHz to 266MHz, with that considered a 'step.' However, we aren't too sure how enthusiasts would accept such a method of overclocking, since it sacrifices precision for speed.