The P45 architecture from Intel has been around for a while now - we've already had a look at Asus's decent P5Q Deluxe motherboard.

Now it's MSI's turn in the firing line, with its top-end entry in the P45 stakes.

The P45 Diamond has everything you'd expect from a top of the range motherboard: support for DDR3 memory, optional liquid cooling and a breakaway Creative X-Fi Xtreme sound card. Not a bad little package for under 200 notes.

Tweaking options

As well as the usual suspects, the P45 comes complete with MSI's CoreCentre, which allows overclocking from within Windows. It works well, making the usually time-consuming task of entering the BIOS to overclock a thing of the past.

It's not quite as tweakable as entering the realms of the blue screen and it won't suit hardcore enthusiasts, but it does make upping your core clocks a lot easier.

If you want to explore the world of the P45 chipset, there's not much difference between the MSI P45 Diamond and the Asus P5Q deluxe in benchmark terms, with MSI's board only beating Asus's by a fraction, but the MSI mobo is almost twice the price of Asus's.

DDR3 support future-proofs this offering a little more, but we're not ready to ditch the more economical DDR2 just yet. If your heart is fundamentally set on DDR3, we'd recommend MSI.

If your wallet is feeling the strain of the credit crunch then there are other, more affordable alternatives out there, such as the P43 from Gigabyte.