More nForce2: New Boards from Abit, Biostar and MSI

MSI K7N2-L / K7N2G

The K7N2-L is equipped in a Spartan manner. This could make the price quite attractive.

G-Version with Northbridge cooler, serial ATA and FireWire.

Board Revision: 1

BIOS Version: 3.0

The K7N2 comes in two variations: as K7N2G with nForce2 IGP and integrated graphics, or as K7N2, tested as the L(ite) version with SPP. Both boards are based on exactly the same layout and offer essentially the same performance when equipped with the same graphics card. However, there are differences in what they come with.

Common to both boards is the basic equipment: both offer five PCI slots and the usual three DIMM sockets. For operation in dual-channel mode, however, only two DIMMs may be installed. An AGP 8X interface is a component of both Northbridges and thus can be found in both models; this allows the K7N2G to be fitted with any AGP graphics card, despite integrated graphics. A 100 MBit network controller is at the ready, as is the MCP-T's sound system.

Notable on the K7N2G is that it is equipped with all options provided on the board. This includes a RAID controller from Promise (PDC20376), which offers two serial ports and a parallel ATA port, and two FireWire ports. K7N2-L has neither of these. In the place where the monitor is connector on the K7N2G, the K7N2-L has no connector - a second COM port is not planned.

The K7N2G has a cooling unit on the IGP complete with a simple fan whose noise level is acceptable. Considering the integrated graphics unit, this can't hurt. The K7N2-L, on the other hand, has no fan, but has a considerably larger cooling element, which stands the noise level in good stead.