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Life in the Fast Lane: New Boards for the Athlon 64

MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum Edition

Board Revision: ?

BIOS Version: 1.2

The Platinum Edition of the K8N Neo4 from MSI comes from the factory with a very high level of equipment. It uses NVIDIA's nForce4 Ultra, and MSI provides one x1 PCIe connection. The second port has the physical dimensions of x4 PCIe, but features just two lanes. The fourth lane is taken up by an additional Gigabit network chip.

Activating High Performance Mode in the BIOS (on Optimized) led to a greatly overclocked graphics card - from 1000 to 1070 MHz memory speed, and from 350 to 373 MHz chip speed. Consequently, 3D performance is greatly improved. We deactivated this tuning mode in our test, however.

Overclocking activity is controlled by MSI's CoreCell chip, which, like Abit's µGuru, is responsible for controlling and monitoring the complete system. MSI has also included an auto-overclocking function for the basic system, which adjusts the clock speed according to the current load.

The Northbridge fan, unfortunately, made quite a racket - and no wonder, running at up to 7,000 RPM. The layout is very cramped due to the high number of additional components. Besides the chipset functions, MSI included a SATA controller from Silicon Image, which adds four additional SATA ports with Command Queuing. A VIA module provides a FireWire connection. Also included in the package was Norton Antivirus 2005, Adobe Photoshop SE, Wasay DPU, ProMagic Plus Lite and ImageIt 3.0. IDE round cables, SATA power switches and a USB adapter complete the package.