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MSI or Gigabyte: Neo2-FR or DS3R?

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  • Motherboards
  • MSI
  • Gigabyte
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May 24, 2008 9:31:28 PM

Hello,
I'm looking for a relatively cheap P35 mobo and I'm considering the MSI Neo2-FR and DS3R at the moment.

Is anyone familiar with the MSI board? I had the impression that the MSI board is a stripped down version of their more expensive Platinium version which is a good board apparently. I think both boards are good and the reason I'm leaning towards the MSI board is that it might be closer to the Platinium board minus Firewire and some other features.

Comments?

Also, the MSI board is around $10 cheaper. It's supposed to be good at overclocking but so is the DS3R.

The MSI Neo2-FR has 4 SATA ports and 2 eSATA ports. I wanted to use eSATA as some point with a Hard Drive either in an enclosure or I'd use an external drive via eSATA connection.

The Gigabyte EP35-DS3R has 8 SATA ports but 2 are of a different type of SATA? Could I use eSATA with this board? I read that some sort of eSATA bracket is included/needed but I would use up a PCI slot then? Could someone in the know explain?

Which board do you recommend (and why)?

I'll have at least two HDDs and probably one 500GB and one 1TB HDD to start with.

I'll be doing virtualization, photo editing, watching movies among other things on this mobo. I'll have 3GB of DDR2 RAM, Windows XP, 1 or 2 Linux OS's and probably Q6600 CPU (have this already) for this system.

So?

Thanks in advance for any replies. I guess either mobo is good but I was hoping to get some more ideas to convince me to lean towards one.

More about : msi gigabyte neo2 ds3r

May 24, 2008 9:42:36 PM

Both are great budget build boards.
The GA-EP35-DS3R gets my vote.
I trust Gigabyte more than MSI and I have a GA-P35-DS3P board myself (I'm very happy with it).
You also plan to have at least two harddrives and I'd recommend a SATA optical disk drive(DVDRW).
That leaves one more internal SATA port on the MSI (just enough to add a 1TB drive for RAID1).

The GA-EP35-DS3R's two "different" SATA ports (purple) are from the onboard SATA/IDE device.
The work the same as the yellow/orange ones that come from the ICH9R (southbridge).

For eSATA you get this bracket (lower right corner):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowImage.aspx?CurImage=1...
It takes up 1 PCI slot out of seven. If you have a lot of expansion cards that can be an issue.

I hope the 3GB RAM are 2x512MB + 2x1GB or you can say goodbyte to dual channel memory (and hello to weak performance).
May 24, 2008 9:48:06 PM

7 PCI slots? Please explain. I guess I am just confused on how it connects (to the mobo)?

Well, I have 2GB so I could get 2GB more? I thought I'd add one more 1GB but I might be okay with 2GB of RAM.

I was thinking of trying a 64-bit OS so I could, in theory, use more RAM.

May 24, 2008 9:50:28 PM

in that class I would recommend the Abit IP35-E but if you choose one of you mention pick gigabyte... MSI Neo2-FR got poor OC ability
May 24, 2008 9:54:15 PM

xpherex said:
in that class I would recommend the Abit IP35-E but if you choose one of you mention pick gigabyte... MSI Neo2-FR got poor OC ability

MSI mobo got poor OC-ing? Hmmm... I ididn't know this. I think the Abit mobo is good but the one with the -E (IP35-E) is not in stock (or otherwise, available) anywhere and I can't use newegg since I'm in Canada.
May 24, 2008 9:58:26 PM

Canuck1 said:
7 PCI slots? Please explain. I guess I am just confused on how it connects (to the mobo)?
A standard ATX computer case has 7 PCI expansion brackets/slots facing the rear (where you mount a graphics card and other PCI/PCIE expansion cards (WIFI, TVTuner, soundcard ...)). You mount this eSATA bracket in an empty PCI expansion slot (like an USB port bracket). You then plug the two yellow/orange SATA cables that are on the bracket into two internal SATA ports (yellow/orange or purple, it doesn't matter) and plug in the remaining power cable on the bracket into your PSU. You plug the eSATA cable (black) and eSATA power cable plug into the back of the case like your monitor, mouse, keyboard, ... and then connect the other end to a (hopefully not bare) harddrive on your desk. I hope this answers your question.

Canuck1 said:
Well, I have 2GB so I could get 2GB more? I thought I'd add one more 1GB but I might be okay with 2GB of RAM.

I was thinking of trying a 64-bit OS so I could, in theory, use more RAM.
You need an even number of modules for dual channel memory. Either stay with 2GB or RAM or get 2GB more (2x1GB sticks). That limits your upgrade options for the future. If you plan to use VISTA get a 4GB (2x2GB sticks) kit instead.
May 24, 2008 10:12:05 PM

Andrius said:
You mount this eSATA bracket in an empty PCI expansion slot (like an USB port bracket). , ... and then connect the other end to a (hopefully not bare) harddrive on your desk. I hope this answers your question.

You need an even number of modules for dual channel memory. Either stay with 2GB or RAM or get 2GB more (2x1GB sticks). That limits your upgrade options for the future. If you plan to use VISTA get a 4GB (2x2GB sticks) kit instead.

Can I get 2GB of a different brand later as long as it's the same speed type?

As for the bracket, it sounds like I want as many SATA connectors as possible for this setup? Also, I suppose I was confused because there are 3 PCI slots, 2 PCI-e x1 slots and the 1 PCI-e x16 slot (for the video card) and I thought the eSATA bracket would take up one of the PCI slots leaving only 2 left? I'd have a sound card in one of those (Audigy 2ZS). Please clarify if I'm mistaken here but it sounds like the bracket would work out (somehow)!


May 24, 2008 10:24:36 PM

Mixing brands of memory can lead to compatability problems and you should try staying away from doing that. If you add memory later make sure its the same brand as your original set.
May 24, 2008 10:28:19 PM

I bought Crucial RAM and I've read (here?) that it can sometimes be problematic for some mobo's. Should I take a chance and hopefully, it'll be fine? Or I could try to sell it and get 4GB of Kingston, Corsair or Mushkin?

The one I have is the Crucial Ballistix Tracer PC-8500.
May 24, 2008 10:37:00 PM

Based on Anandtech's review, the Neo2-FR can overclock higher than any other P35 board. I don't consider extreme overclocking to be my priority, but that's what I read. /shrug

I do have a Neo2-FR personally. Been very satisfied with it. I love Gigabyte boards as well, so it's pretty much a wash as far as I'm concerned.
May 24, 2008 10:49:56 PM

@Canuck1
Mixing memory brands is usually a bad idea (different timigs and voltage needs ... a mess in general). Should be avoided if possible.

The bracket can be mounted anywhere, it doesn't need a PCI/PCIE slot on the motherboard. If you run out of available expansion space remove the metal plate from the bracket and drill holes into the metal backplate of your case (remove all hardware before doing that). Match the holes on the metal bracket and mount it directly to the case. Should be a 30 minute mod if you have the tools for it.

@bardia
The 550MHz FSB of the Platinum is higher than the 547MHz of the ASUS Blitz from hardocp. Impressive. I consider every P35 board that goes above 500MHz a "hall of fame" board. :) 
May 24, 2008 11:09:48 PM

I like the neo2, but i haven't tried the gigabyte board....
!