Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

MSI P43 Neo3-F

Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100
By

As the largest motherboard in today’s comparison, the MSI P43 Neo3-F is also the most ornate. Competing with traditional ATX designs such as the Biostar TP43D2-A7 and the Jetway BI-500, the P43 Neo3-F gets attention with its simple northbridge-to-VRM heat pipe cooling system. Yet, a $85 Web price lets MSI undercut those competitors

The standard ATX P43 Neo3-F is better-supported by ATX cases because it’s wide enough to reach the third column of standoffs on a motherboard tray. Competing products typically come up about an inch short. By making its P43 Neo3-F a full-sized part, MSI is able to reduce motherboard flex during memory installation compared to the competition.

Buyers looking for a great layout might be in for a small surprise, as this is an instance where skill is more important than size. For example, the no-longer-required Ultra ATA connector is located conveniently along the front edge, while the rarely used floppy header is pushed under the bottom PCI slot. Also, while the 24-pin ATX/EPS main connector is conveniently placed at the motherboard’s front edge, the ATX12V connector is pushed between the chipset northbridge and rear panel ports. Builders must run the ATX12V around the CPU cooler when using traditional tower cases or around the graphics card when using cases that have the power supply at the bottom.

The P43 Neo3-F has enough room above its single PCIe x16 slot so that MSI might have considered putting an x1 slot there. Instead, engineers put other circuitry in this location, making the board a six-slot design. For many users, the P43 Neo3-F won’t hold as many cards as the competing six-slot TP43D2-A7 from Biostar, because Biostar eliminated the slot beneath the graphics card rather than the one above it. The P43 Neo3-F’s sole PCIe x1 slot is in a position that builders often leave empty to aid single-slot graphics cooling or cover with a double-slot graphics cooler.

Then there’s the matter of the front-panel audio header located in the P43 Neo3-F’s bottom rear corner. This has certainly been the standard location for many years, but for almost as many years, people have had trouble running a cable there from upper-bay or top-panel audio jacks. The rear-bottom-corner location didn’t even make sense when it first debuted, because Windows 95 required a CD-Audio cable to be stretched over a similar path.

A feature present on the P43 Neo3-F that we don’t usually see on modern motherboards is the pair of FSB jumpers located between the PCIe x16 and uppermost PCI slot. Set to automatically detect bus speeds by default, a small chart next to the memory slots details the selection of every possible bus-speed increase.

MSI P43 Neo3-F (Revision 1.0)

Northbridge

Intel P43 Express

Southbridge

Intel ICH10

Voltage Regulator

Four Phases

BIOS

V1.5 (09/11/2008)

333.3MHz (FSB1333)

334.2 MHz (+0.26%)

Clock Generator

ICS 9LPRS113AKLF

Connectors and Interfaces

Onboard

1x PCIe 2.0 x16

1x PCIe x1

4x PCI

4x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)

1x Floppy

1x Ultra ATA (2-drives)

8x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s

1x Front Panel Audio

1x CD-Audio In

1x S/P-DIF Out

1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)

2x Fan 3 pins (Chassis)

IO panel

2x PS2 (keyboard + mouse)

6x USB 2.0

1x RJ-45 Network

6x Analog Audio (7.1 Channel + Mic-In + Line-In)

Mass Storage Controllers

Intel ICH10

6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s

JMicron JMB363

1x Ultra ATA-133 (2-drives)

2x SATA 3.0Gb/s

Network

Realtek RTL8111C PCI-E

Gigabit LAN Controller

Audio

Realtek ALC888 HDA

7.1 + 2 channel Multi-Streaming Output


While it doesn’t have high-end features such as CrossFire or FireWire, the MSI P43 Neo3-F still carries enough features to fool some buyers into thinking that it could be a mid-priced part. Examples include solid capacitors in all locations and a middle-market audio controller, which are both unmatched by rival products from Biostar and Jetway.

Realtek’s ALC888 offers an impressive 97.1 db signal-to-noise ratio and multi-streaming independent front-panel and rear-panel outputs.

Realtek’s RTL8111C uses a PCIe interface to provide full bandwidth to a single Gigabit Ethernet port.

Last and possibly least is the ATA controller from JMicron. The JMB363 supports up to two Ultra ATA drives from a single cable at speeds up to 133 MB/s, plus two SATA devices.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 41 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 24, 2008 12:11 PM
    I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    V3NOM , December 24, 2008 9:10 AM
    interesting, although pretty much anyone building a P775 system these days would spend a bit more than $100... and somethings really weird with this commenting thing cos i can't read what i'm typing... it just ... doesnt fill the box? just when i type something it instantly goes to the left instead of filling the box... but anyway, interesting if a bit useless article.
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , December 24, 2008 9:42 AM
    FWIW, the issue with text disappearing from the commenting box as you're typing is something I've reported and m waiting for a fix still. Thanks for confirming that it's still an issue.
  • -9 Hide
    rjcorrin , December 24, 2008 11:16 AM
    Yes - everyone has money shooting out of their pantless ass to buy more expensive motherboards. I use a gigabyte Ep35 DS3L and am very happy with it. What is a >$100 board going to give me? Is it just that you want to waste money? I'm guessing you are one of those people who carry a balance on your credit card and lease a Lexus - you debt-carrying phag.
  • 5 Hide
    jsc , December 24, 2008 11:38 AM
    "What is a >$100 board going to give me?

    I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 24, 2008 12:11 PM
    I run the I.T. department for a couple small businesses, and the sub $100 motherboard is almost essential in today's economy. Sure I could use a $120-$150 motherboard, DDR3, 10000 RPM hard drive, and all kinds of other things, but I would end up with a system that is only marginal faster in business applications for 3+ times the price. Take one of the G3x or G4x motherboards, 2GB DDR2, Intel E7x00 CPU and 80GB+ HDD and you have a system that will meet the needs of a good majority of businesses and home users. I am personally a gamer and can see the value in the higher end components; but there are a lot of other market segments out there where this makes financial sense.
  • 4 Hide
    gaiden2k7 , December 24, 2008 1:06 PM
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $99 during black friday... would that top this list? :) 
  • -8 Hide
    Noya , December 24, 2008 1:27 PM
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $84.50 during Black Friday, pwned you ninja gaiden fag.
  • -8 Hide
    malveaux , December 24, 2008 1:28 PM
    Wait, no AMD stuff?

    :( 
  • 6 Hide
    gwolfman , December 24, 2008 1:46 PM
    lol @ rjcorrin's 1st comment.

    In reply: Maybe he already had HDDs laying around of smaller size and thought it best to save money by spending a few more dollars on more SATA ports than hundreds on new 3 x 1TB HDDs. You're reasoning is asinine and self contradicting.
  • 2 Hide
    Tindytim , December 24, 2008 1:47 PM
    rjcorrinDid you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?

    Did you happen to notice you're using Firefox? It, not this comment box, does that.

    rjcorrin"I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports."The DS3L has 4 Sata ports which could easily handle 3 terabytes and a DVD drive. You could have saved money by editing down your porn collection and deleting your stolen .iso's of the entire "Friday the 13th" collection.

    And what about Raid? And all the PC's I've had in this Millennium have had 2 Removable Disk drives.

    Not to mention I have multiple OSes installed, and an extra drive I use for storage (I reformat often). So I have plenty of drives.
  • 1 Hide
    gwolfman , December 24, 2008 2:11 PM
    Ummm, maybe I missed it but I didn't see anywhere that said what video/graphics card was used in these test. Anyone!?! I'm curious because of the power consumption numbers. Thanks.
  • 3 Hide
    cambion , December 24, 2008 2:14 PM
    Attention to detail alert... The MSI Neo3-f has eight SATA ports not, as the article claims, six.
  • -1 Hide
    rjcorrin , December 24, 2008 2:20 PM
    cambionAttention to detail alert... The MSI Neo3-f has eight SATA ports not, as the article claims, six.


    This is the exact number of ports on the DS3P. So, again, what does a >$100 board going to give me?
  • -3 Hide
    tmc , December 24, 2008 2:24 PM
    Though this does give you an what our Taiwan & Chinese friends have in the goodie bin at the local computer store.. you will still want to wait to bu
  • 1 Hide
    tmc , December 24, 2008 2:26 PM
    tmcThough this does give you an what our Taiwan & Chinese friends have in the goodie bin at the local computer store.. you will still want to wait to bu

    Ugh, got cut off..
    Wait to build your system until Q1, Q2 processor price cuts of 2009.. especially if you have your heart set on $ inTEL $ 775 vs amd.
  • -9 Hide
    rjcorrin , December 24, 2008 2:29 PM
    TindytimDid you happen to notice you're using Firefox? It, not this comment box, does that.And what about Raid? And all the PC's I've had in this Millennium have had 2 Removable Disk drives.Not to mention I have multiple OSes installed, and an extra drive I use for storage (I reformat often). So I have plenty of drives.


    /Sarcasm
    Maybe I should load up a few more OSes, Opera, IE (6 & 7) and Chrome to fully analyze the capabilities of this text box. I should probably hook up a raid array (mode 0+1 anyone?) to maximize my system performance and maintain the integrity of my porn collection prior to starting my full analysis of this text box.
    /sarcasm
    Do you get any real work done on that computer of yours? Seems like you're spending all your time loading operating systems, plugging in drives, reformatting, and flipping between your extensive collection of linux derivatives. Get a life dude!! You are a hacker-poser!

    And...
    Merry Christmas to EVERYONE!! (even the Jews)
  • 6 Hide
    orangedrink , December 24, 2008 2:29 PM
    Merry Christmas
Display more comments