MSI K8N Neo2
Board Revision: 1.x
BIOS Version: 1.4
The K8N Neo2 is based on NVIDIA's nForce3 Ultra and is representative of the AGP era; it has been available in the stores for many months already. The principle difference between this board and the others is its unusual design. The board features horizontally-mounted DIMM sockets that are a boon for ventilating the memory modules, since this corresponds to the direction that the airflow mostly takes in the system.
MSI has given its boards an extra SATA controller with ports located between the AGP slot and the processor socket. The connectors for the floppy drive and the two UltraATA/133 channels are at the other end of the board and so in close proximity to the drive slots common in tower housings. MSI was also thoughtful enough to provide a FireWire chip and even color-code the pins on the connector panel. A surround sound system is de rigueur these days and was not forgotten here either.
MSI uses an active fan to cool the nForce3, which we usually flatly advise against. In this case, however, it makes sense, since a passive cooling element would take up more space above and could come into conflict with expansion cards or with a cooler on a graphics card.
The K8N Neo2 already has the red PCI slot, which is handled with priority and comes up with additional power as required. This is suitable either for professional sound cards or the MSI-proprietary Bluetooth/WLAN module; it also takes other PCI cards as well.