As mentioned, the design of the MS 975X Platinum is very much in line with the older 955X Platinum. We're not complaining though, as MSI has done a very neat and tidy job with the board. Connectors are readily accessible and we don't foresee any cable or space restriction problems that will arise. In addition, there is actually a hidden change that you won't notice up front, but it makes the 975X Platinum more environmentally friendly than its predecessor. As with most new and upcoming motherboards from major brands, the 975X Platinum is manufactured to comply with the RoHS directive; that is the restriction of use of hazardous materials like lead, mercury and cadmium among others.
Since this is only the second board featuring the Intel 975X Express chipset we've got to play with, comparisons with Gigabyte's GAG1975X is unavoidable. The 975X platinum sports two PCIe x16 slots that can operate in a single x16 mode or dual x8 with two graphics cards for quad display output or ATI CrossFire. Its expansion slot configuration is similar to the Gigabyte in the sense that it has two PCIe and two PCI slots. However, MSI places the PCIe x1 slot between the PCIe x16 graphics slots and leaves the PCI slots free, which is a more preferable layout today. However, the Gigabyte GA-G1975X is a more future friendly motherboard, with its emphasis on PCI Express and providing two open ended PCIe x4 slots.
The 975X Platinum with Intel ICH7R supports four SATA II ports with RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and Matrix Storage support. MSI also adds a PCIe JMicron controller (JMB361), which delivers an additional Ultra-ATA port as well as a single SATA II port. The JMB361 also allows cross-port PATA/SATA RAID 0 and 1 creation. While MSI does provide additional storage options, it is actually s step down from its predecessor, the 955X Platinum, which sported two additional storage controllers instead of the integrated JMicron seen here. The other features are also downgraded with only a single Gigabit Ethernet port (Broadcom BCM5751) instead of two and a reduction from a 3-port IEEE 1394a to a 2-port controller (VIA VT3608P).
Unlike the dearer Gigabye GA-G1975X again, which uses a Sound Blaster Live! to beef up its onboard audio, the 975X Platinum takes advantage of Intel's Azalia technology to deliver High Definition audio standards with the help of Realtek's ALC883 HD CODEC. While it may not be a gamer's first choice, Intel's HDA has given onboard audio its much needed boost in audio quality and performance. Just make sure that you get the latest drivers from Realtek to have things running smoothly.
The following overclocking options were available in the current BIOS:-
The MSI 975X Platinum has a decent headroom for FSB overclocking and memory ratio that allows users to set DDR2 memory up to 880MHz. While the overclocking settings on the 975X Platinum do cover most of the standard features, it is not as extensive as those we found on the Gigabyte GA-G1975X. Nevertheless, the motherboard isn't a sloppy overclocker. We managed to hit a good 314MHz FSB while keeping to default voltages. In contrast, the Gigabyte GA-G1975X managed a slightly higher score of 317MHz, which might be attributed to a better cooled system.