MSI K8N Neo Platinum: First nForce3-250Gbby Wesley Fink on April 26, 2004 12:05 AM EST
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As one of the larger players in the motherboard market, MSI tries very hard to be first to market when a new chipset is launched. Being first is a matter of great pride and market share to MSI, so we were not really surprised when the MSI K8N Neo, based on the new nVidia nForce3-250Gb chipset, showed up for review. The downside of being first is that sometimes there are early issues with a chipset, but in this case, the nF3-250 is based on the already-established nForce3-150 chipset. While MSI never produced a board with the first generation nForce3-150 chipset, the 150 has been available for almost a year, and MSI has clearly done a lot of development work in anticipation of the release of the much updated nForce3-250.
The K8N Neo we received was the top-end Platinum series, a name MSI is now using for their top motherboards. As with past models, MSI will likely offer other members of the K8N Neo family with fewer features and a lower price. K8N Neo motherboards are based on the nForce3-250Gb, which includes on-chip Gigabit LAN. This chipset is not being used on all 250 boards, as some announced boards are based on the more basic nF3-250 chipset. As a top-of-the-line model, the K8N Neo Platinum is loaded with features, including on-chip Gigabit LAN, 8-channel (7.1 Audio), 8-Drive nVidia SATA/IDE RAID, MSI Core Cell for overclocking, and a dedicated Communications slot for WLAN/Bluetooth.
We do want to commend MSI on their diligence in addressing some suggestions that we made after our first look at the K8N Neo. Once we saw what this board could do with a working PCI lock and adjustable ratios, we suggested a wider FSB range and so, MSI had a new BIOS with FSB expanded from 250 to 300 in our hands in 2 days. The boards that you will see in the market will have this enhanced BIOS Version 1.13 or later. Now that we've benchmarked the K8N, we wish we had suggested a FSB range to 350 as the K8N Neo is a board capable of the kinds of incredible overclocks that can only be achieved with a working PCI/AGP lock and adjustable ratios.
With that tantalizing bit of information, let's take a closer look at the MSI K8N Neo Platinum.