I'll go one by one on each 650i SLI board on Newegg.
MSI P6N - I just don't trust MSI, especially over Asus
MSI P6N Platinum - Still an MSI
Nice heatpipe setup, has E-SATA. DUMB Price, especially for an MSI
ECS - Uh, Com Port instead of E-SATA on P5N-E...
Abit Fatal1ty - Uh, it's pretty?... no com OR E-Sata... where'd they go?
Gigabyte DS4 - Nice design... still chose COM over E-SATA?
Also, NB heatsink is very TALL... allthough it is neat
P5N-E SLI has E-SATA, Asus reliablity, and is a proven board.
I will say this- you will most likely be happy with ANY 650i SLI board.
But Asus > MSI, ECS in my mind.
Fatal1ty... lack of ESATA or COM, just odd. Why pay for a name, who says they pay attention when they know people will buy the name?
The only contender here vs the P5N-E is the Gigabyte. But the giant heatsink and COM over E-SATA... also it's more expensive... I'd go P5N-E.
I don't want to come off as an Asus fanboy, but, I am
Truly, they are all -good- boards. But the P5N-E is the best of the group.
You may think I am trying to say ESATA is a must. That's not what I am saying.
But without the ESATA, you are restricted to 4 SATA instead of 5.
And this is my main point - if the chipset offers 5 SATA or 4 SATA and a COM... why put only 4 SATA... or 4 SATA and an outdated COM port (which can be added to the P5N-E via pins and a cable, if you want it)
Asus is known to be one of the best, if not the best. It shows in the fact they they were offered 4 SATA, and 1 COM or 1 ESATA. They obviously chose ESATA, which is due to it being the newer technology, and being very popular. Why would a board manuf. make a board without a COM or ESATA at all? And if you can have room for the onboard COM... why not drop the ESATA in the back panel...
Anyway - 650i SLI is a great chipset, no matter which you get.
I highly suggest the P5N-E over any of them. Even if just for trust in Asus and the nice price.
I paid $140 for mine only 6 months ago.
In regards to SLI 8x vs SLI 16x - not even the GTX can be slowed by it.
There was talk that GTX require 16x... but that is untrue, visit the P5N-E thread's first post to see the article that proves SLI GTX works fine.
Visit any site comparing 8x vs 16x SLI and you'll see if anything is lost at all, you are talking about 2-3FPS.