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Review: MSI Eclipse SLI - SLI or CrossFireX: the choice is yours

by James Smith on 27 November 2008, 08:57 3.45

Tags: Eclipse SLI, MSI, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qap6l

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Conclusion

Our time with the MSI Eclipse X58 SLI leaves me in two minds. On the one hand, it introduces several new innovative features to MSI's range of motherboards, such as the GreenPower Genie real-time power monitoring and M-Flash virtual BIOS technology that allows you to try new BIOS versions first from a USB stick, without first flashing the BIOS.  In addition, this board is definitely the fastest we've tested thus far, however this is predominantly due to it also being the first in-depth LGA1366 motherboard to pass through our labs.

The onboard power, reset and clear CMOS buttons should prove invaluable to overclockers whilst tweaking their system to find the limits, and unlike some boards it provides full BIOS support should the worst happen and you find yourself having to clear the CMOS due to a failed overclock.

It's not all a bed of roses however and some of the downsides are of real concern, such the high price of MSI Eclipse SLI, making it one of the most-expensive X58 board currently on the market, priced at around £300.

To add insult to injury, MSI then, we reckon, commits a faux-pas by not providing the necessary cables to run 3-way SLI, despite advertising this as a feature of the board. The Creative X-Fi card bundled would explain some of the extra cost over other boards, and even though it can possibly improve in-game frame-rates slightly, we feel this is more than offset by the fact that you'll be forced to use analogue connections to your speakers achieve this gain.

Therefore, all things being said, the MSI Eclipse SLI is a good, well-equipped but somewhat overpriced solution to your Core i7 needs. £200 yes; £300 no.

Pros

The fastest motherboard we've currently tested
Innovative features such as GreenPower Genie, M-Flash, CPU-Z and Memory-Z
Use of industrial-grade capacitors and VRMs for the CPU’s power circuitry
Onboard power, reset and clear CMOS buttons

Cons

Quite expensive when compared to both its X48 and X58 rivals
Have to purchase extra cables to use 3-way SLI functionality
No coaxial digital audio out and no encoded 3D audio functionality such as Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect

HEXUS Rating

HEXUS.net scores products out of 100%, taking into account technology, implementation, stability, performance, value, customer care and desirability. A score for an average-rated product is a meaningful ‘50%’, and not ‘90%’, which is common practice for a great many other publications.

We consider any product score above '50%' as a safe buy. The higher the score, the higher the recommendation from HEXUS to buy. Simple, straightforward buying advice.


MSI Eclipse SLI

 

HEXUS Where2Buy

The MSI Eclipse SLI can be purchased from Scan.co.uk for £309.33 .

As always, UK-based HEXUS.community discussion forum members will benefit from the SCAN2HEXUS Free Shipping initiative, which will save you a further few pounds plus also top-notch, priority customer service and technical support backed up by the SCANcare@HEXUS forum.

HEXUS Right2Reply

Richard Stewart, Marketing Manager for MSI UK, was kind enough to submit a HEXUS Right2Reply, with particular reference to our dislike of not including three SLI bridges.

"We don’t feel for a customer using a 3 graphics card set up plus this board, £10 extra is a problem. Better this than charge every customer extra £10 for something 90% will not use?" 

External Links

Official MSI Eclipse SLI product page



HEXUS Forums :: 3 Comments

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Holy cow How much.

sounds nice but dammed expensive and i hope the bios gets regular updates at that price.
This is an odd review I think. I don't understand why we hardly get a look at the Creative sound card. I was a little bit baffled by the reviewer making this comment:

Unlike Intel's reference X58 SmackOver board, which is curiously equipped with only four DIMM sockets, MSI has sensibly equipped the Eclipse with six, thus allowing you to fully exploit your chosen i7 processor's memory expansion capabilities - in two channels of three DIMMs.


I assume this is a typo? I thought the i7s were able to use three channels, (with two DIMMs in each on this board)? Also, the comment about the colour:

The Eclipse, however, doesn't utilise a typical colour scheme for its DIMM sockets, as each channel isn't allocated its own colour. Instead, each triplet of DIMMs is allocated its own colour, thus you populate all the black sockets first to ensure optimal tri-channel performance.


As far as I know, it is typical to populate the matching colour slots. That has certainly been my experience with DFI and ASUS boards.

I don't understand the whine about the Firewire either. Where the hell on that board would realistically be more convenient? If you are worried about front panel connections, then why the daft complaint about an extra Firewire back panel connector? Who really needs two firewire connections, and doesn't have one on the front of their system?

Sure MSI they could have chucked in an extra SLI ribbon cable, but since three way SLI is limited to graphics cards costing hundreds of pounds each, those rich people can surely afford a bit more for an extra SLI bridge? The board only has a x4 connection at the bottom, and any dual slot card would block all the useful buttons etc. You would be daft to use this board in 3 way SLI.

Why was there no power consumption analysis?

I know these all seem like really petty and minor complaints. For some reason this article made me a bit annoyed. Maybe it is because MSI has, for once, made a board that actually looks nice, has a decent layout *and* actually performs, and they get a shoddy review for their trouble.

Sorry for being a tool. I can't help it.
DeSean
As far as I know, it is typical to populate the matching colour slots. That has certainly been my experience with DFI and ASUS boards.


In my experience MSI have previously colour matched the 1st position of each pair rather than matching the pairs together (A1 and B1 instead of A1 and A2). This always seemed quite illogical to me, although I'm glad they have decided to do it the same way that asus boards are.