NVIDIA, SiS and VIA Bring on Chipsets for AMD Socket 939

Test Board: MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum (MS-7025)

BIOS Version: 1.1 (2004/07/28)

The K8N Neo2 Platinum is one of two boards from Microstar International (MSI) that supports socket 939 processors. An alternative is the K8T Neo2 based on VIA's current chipset. The latter is not as well equipped, however, since it only provides a network controller.

What NVIDIA doesn't offer is added by MSI: The VT6306 provides a total of three FireWire ports (1394a). Well-known MSI features are also included, such as CoreCell (plus DOT) providing automatic overclocking up to 15%, and LiveUpdate 3 allowing driver and BIOS updates direct via the Internet. One PCI slot - referred to as the Communication Slot - is given higher priority by MSI: it can be fitted with an MS54G2 like, for example, MSI's 54 MBit WLAN card.

Looking at the BIOS options, users may be tempted to select "High Performance Mode" in the Cell Menu. It should be noted, however, that this activates the DOT Status Sergeant. This point ought to be mentioned in the manual, since not all users intend to run their systems in forced overclock mode.

With the processor and cooler installed, the release switch for the graphics board is very hard to handle since the cooler on the nForce3 chipset is positioned almost directly in front of it. Otherwise, the design is well planned and the horizontal arrangement of the DIMM slots promotes the ventilation of the system in towers with an extra ventilator/fan in the back. The two SATA ports located between the AGP and the CPU didn't cause any trouble in our test - it was no problem to lay the connector cables around all the components.