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MSI K9A Platinum

Tom's Socket AM2 Motherboard Summer Slam
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The K9A has the distinction of being the only socket AM2 motherboard in this review that sports a chipset not provided by Nvidia; this board features the ATI Radeon Xpress 3200 chipset. It will be interesting to see how the performance holds up compared to Nvidia's offerings. As an added bonus, we have the attractive X-Wing fighter knockoff prominently featured on the packaging as with MSI's other Platinum AM2 board, the K9N.

slide show: MSI K9A Platinum

Interfaces

The Radeon Xpress 3200 is ATI's premium chipset offering for socket AM2, so it comes with two full-speed PCIe x16 slots for those who wish to use a Crossfire graphics card setup. In addition, two x1 PCIe slots and two PCI slots round out the add-in board options.

As is typical with most of the boards in the roundup, there are four integrated USB ports, and headers supply the option of attaching six more. The Firewire (IEEE1394) situation is also the norm, with one port on the motherboard and an additional header for a second port if desired. The brackets for the additional Firewire port, and two additional USB ports, are included.

Because this isn't an nForce board, we see a unique Gigabit Ethernet controller on the K9A, the Realtek 8111B PCIe Gbe. Like every other board in the roundup, there are two Ethernet ports integrated on the motherboard. Also unique to the K9A in this review is the ATI SB600 mass storage controller, providing four SATA connectors in addition to a single UltraATA connector. Note that every other board in this comparison sports six SATA connectors. Also of note; this motherboard does not support the RAID 5 mode.

Audio

Like it's cousin the K9N, the K9A uses the Realtek ALC883 codec for seven-channel high definition audio. Five audio mini jacks, a single SPDIF coax and a single optical out are present for audio connectivity, and connectors are available for 5x2 pin front audio and the CD-in.

Cooling

The MOSFETS, Northbridge and Southbridge each have their own simple heat sink. There are no fans, heat pipes or fancy cooling solutions on the board whatsoever, but none of the chipsets seemed to output unacceptable temperatures.

Bundle

The software bundle included with the K9A platinum is identical to MSI's K9N Platinum listed previously. Please refer to the K9N's bundle section above for more information.

Notes

Like other premium offerings from MSI, the BIOS has been modified to incorporate MSI's proprietary 'Cell Menu' listed previously in the K9N notes. Please refer to the K9N's bundle section above for more information.

On a side note, we couldn't access the Taiwan MSI site to find a new BIOS version during the review on Friday 08/18/2006. There were no BIOS updates available on the U.S. or German websites at that time.

slide show: MSI K9A Platinum

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