New and Improved: NVIDIA nForce3 250 Gb Chipset

Test Board: MSI K8N Neo, Aka MS-7030

The first ready-made board with nForce3 250 Gb to reach us was the MSI K8N Neo Platinum, and it makes a good impression at first blush. It even looks like a board in BTX (balance technology extended) format, because the memory sockets were attached diagonally instead of vertically. The processor socket is directly beneath them. With this design, MSI compromises the way ATX basically works, i.e. the power supply fans are supposed to draw out the heat from the system components.

But this idea has not been functioning for years, because the thermal power from the processor, graphics chip and Northbridge is now more like that of a big halogen lamp.

As a result practically every case today has a recess in which the case fan is supposed to be mounted, which makes sense for the K8N Neo because the flow of air is more easily conducted through the case from front to back.

MSI makes logical use of all chipset features including Gigabit-Ethernet and even gives the board two additional SATA ports, which, however, were positioned in a way that requires some getting used to. A FireWire controller from VIA (VT6106) and the CoreCell chip from MSI put the finishing touch on the list of features. Other nice touches include the fact that the nForce3 250 Gb only has one gold-tone cooling element and that MSI did without cheap and unnecessary fans.

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