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Roundup: Six Core 2 Motherboards Under $100

P43 Neo3-F Software, BIOS, and Accessories

The P43 Neo3-F installation CD doesn’t include a cache of valuable third-party applications, but it does have a few nice MSI utilities.

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In order to support stable changes is the FSB clock, MSIDualCoreCenter can also alter processor-core, memory, and chipset voltage levels. Changes made here were also reflected in CPU-Z readings.

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A smaller command console can be used to select pre-set overclocking and power-saving controls. We found that while Cool mode dropped our FSB clock from 333 MHz to 310 MHz, our system’s idle power requirement increased by a single watt.

The P43 Neo3-F also includes MSI Live Update 3, which is a program capable of automatically searching for and loading driver and BIOS updates.

BIOS

The frequency and voltage ranges of MSI’s P43 Neo3-F BIOS are as broad as most mid-priced enthusiast motherboards.

BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)
FSB FrequencyStock to 800 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM Ratios1.0, 1.2, 1.25, 1.33, 1.5, 1.60, 1.67, 2.0
PCIe ClockNot Adjustable
CPU Vcore0.830 to 2.0175 V (0.0125 V)
CPU FSB Voltage1.20 to 2.47 V (0.01 V)
Northbridge (MCH)0.740 to 2.624 V (0.012 V)
Southbridge (ICH)1.50 to 1.80 V (0.1 V)
DRAM Voltage1.416 to 3.324 V (0.012 V)
CASLatencyRange
tCAS: 3-6; tRCD: 3-10; tRP: 3-10; tRAS: 9-30

The P43 Neo3-F even supports the full range of memory speeds, but more impressive are the small CPU and DRAM voltage adjustment increments, which could allow tuners to find the best compromise between speed and temperature.

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MSI Cell Menu contains the frequency, clock ratio, voltage, and CPU controls with which intermediate-level overclockers are familiar. One peculiar quirk was that enabling Intel C-State technology made our Core 2 Duo E8600 system unbootable, even when everything else was set to default.

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The Advanced DRAM sub-menu contains both basic and advanced timings and the most advanced settings can be set per-channel. Entering the Memory-Z sub-menu allows the viewing of EPP values as well, but these must be entered manually.

MSI offers two user profiles where custom settings can be stored and later retrieved, even after using the CLR_CMOS jumper.

Accessories

Accessories
Documentation&SoftwareMotherboard ManualQuick Installation GuideHDD Backup User’s Guide2x Motherboard Driver CDMSI HDD Backup Utility CD
Hardware2x SATA Data Cable1x 4-Pin to SATA Power Adapter1x 80-conductor Ultra-ATA cable1x I/O Panel Shield

Extra CDs and the manual bolster the MSI installation kit without adding any real substance. For example, MSI includes separate Windows XP and Windows Vista driver disks, rather than placing everything on a DVD. MSI’s Hard Drive Backup utility is a nice add-in, but is not any more valuable than the freeware utilities so often recommended in our user forums.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • V3NOM
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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.
    Reply
  • rjcorrin
    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.
    Reply
  • jsc
    "What is a >$100 board going to give me?

    I have a DS3P becuae i need the exrta SATA ports.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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. Then you would have had enough space to install "Mavis Beacon Teaches Touch Typing". That would give you something else to do with your hands during your "adult film" marathons.
    Did you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?
    Reply
  • 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. Then you would have had enough space to install "Mavis Beacon Teaches Touch Typing". That would give you something else to do with your hands during your "adult film" marathons.
    Did you happen to notice that the comment box detects your errors and underlines them in red?
    Reply
  • gaiden2k7
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $99 during black friday... would that top this list? :)
    Reply
  • Noya
    I got a Gigabyte UD3P for $84.50 during Black Friday, pwned you ninja gaiden fag.
    Reply
  • malveaux
    Wait, no AMD stuff?

    :(
    Reply