Preview: MSI X38 Diamond (Intel X38)


MSI Polishes Another Diamond with the Intel X38

After our brief run in with Foxconn's X38A, MSI sent us their upcoming flagship motherboard, the MSI X38 Diamond. With the official launch date of the Intel X38 just around the corner, we were a little surprised that MSI sent us an early engineering sample of the board, which we last saw ready at this year's Computex Taipei tradeshow. However, the X38 Diamond looked like one of the more interesting X38 motherboard implementations to appear and we're sure that you'd love to see what MSI is cooking up close and personal.

The MSI X38 Diamond builds upon the MSI P35 Diamond (Read the review here), using the same formula as before, bundling high end Creative X-Fi audio and VoIP solutions into the board as well as a new Circu-Pipe cooler design. Looking at the board itself, it looks like MSI has beefed up some of the motherboard components as well, but what was most interesting is that the X38 Diamond features four PCIe x16 slots. The X38 chipset is supposed to support dual full speed x16 natively, so could this be MSI's attempt to split the rails to get four graphics lanes for quad GPU setups? We spied an IDT PCIe controller onboard, which looks like a similar approach to the ASUS Blitz series of boards. MSI claims that the board operates at x16/x16/x4/x4. You might also have noticed that our sample has six DIMM slots with a hybrid setup, but MSI has confirmed that the X38 Diamond retail board will only come with four DDR3 memory slots.

Early engineering sample of the MSI X38 Diamond, which has been floating around since this year's Computex. Components are mostly finalized and MSI says the only thing missing is a new Circu-Pipe cooler.

Intel X38 MCH Northbridge unveiled. You can't really see anything on the heat spreader surface, but we know you dig naked chipsets so here it is.

While our engineering sample does not feature any cooling, the finalized retail unit will feature MSI's Circu-Pipe. From the looks of MSI's stock images, the design of the cooler has also been refined since its initial conception.

Our sample came with hybrid memory support, which was rather surprising at first, but MSI confirms that the final version of the X38 Diamond will only come with four slots DDR3 and none of DDR2.

Rear panel looks more fleshed out than the P35 Platinum. We've now got eight USB 2.0 ports, dual LAN and a small little button at the back between the eSATA and USB ports which is probably a CMOS reset.

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