The nForce 5 series of motherboards were released almost off the radar. There wasn't the grand unveiling like when the nForce 3 was released, bringing Athlon 64 CPUs to the market or when the nForce 4 was released bringing PCIe graphics and, most importantly, SLI-capability to the masses. The nForce5 is more of an evolution of what has already been so nearly perfected, rather than being another revolution the previous two chipsets were. The nForce 5 brings support for DDR2 and the entire AM2 platform to the table, but other than a few tweaks and changes throughout, the boards are not all that much different than the previous nForce 4 series.
Is that bad? Most certainly not. The old adage, "if it an't broke, don't fix it" certainly applies here. The nForce 4 series was spectacular and NVIDIA knew it and just like the nForce 4 series, the nForce 5 comes in a number of flavors: 590 SLI at the top of the line; 570 SLI and 570 Ultra being the mid-range boards; and 550 at the entry level spot. MSI was kind enough to send me the top of the midrange line, their K9N nForce 570 SLI Platinum, to review.
Before the board arrived, I did a little research and found that many people at NewEgg complained of the board being faulty due to its passively-cooled northbridge and not being able to run memory faster than 667MHz among many other things. I got a little nervous about the heat issues – especially because my apartment is on the third floor of a three-story building with all the heat from the two floors below rising up to mine. On top of that, the sun beats on it all day. It can be beastly in here at times, so I was preparing myself for the potential headaches caused by an overheated motherboard.
I was reminded of a valuable lesson I learned years ago: online customer reviews should never, EVER be trusted as 100% truth. Take them into consideration when purchasing, but with a very large grain of salt...
It occured to me when the big brown box was delivered to me at work that most computer parts come in the weirdest boxes ever. I never understood why images of cloaked elves, space stations, or X-Wing style fighter ships are used in favor of the actual product images...but who really cares what's on the box cover? The contents are what matters and those contents were getting me all excited and simultaneously sad that I still had another 4 hours of work before I could go home and play with the new toys.
MSI K9N nForce 570 SLI Platinum Box Contents
Inside the box, apart from the obvious motherboard, were
4 SATA cables
1 IDE cable
1 floppy disk cable
2 4-pin molex to SATA power converters
SLI bridge retention clip
Drivers and utilities disc
Floppy containing the MCP55 chipset SATA RAID drivers
Quick user guide
Full instruction manual.
I had to admit, the inclusion of a floppy disk really threw me off; I can't say I know anyone that uses them anymore, but I suppose for those that do and need to use RAID and can't be bothered with creating a slipstreamed version of Windows, installation of the drivers during the Windows setup would be much easier thanks to that disk.