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.

Basic Features: MSI K8N Neo Platinum
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  • Wesley Fink - Monday, April 26, 2004 - link

    #1 - This is the same CPU that has not been able to run 3 dimms in the past. Stepping is AP. I was also surprised 3 dimms worked at DDR400.

    #3 - MSI states that the K8N Neo Platinum fully supports Cool'n'Quiet. We did enable it and it does appear to be working. We ended up disabling Cool'n'Quiet for our overclocking tests to prevent any possible interference from this feature.

    #4 - We will be changing standard test memory in the near future. Since so many tests have been done with the Mushkin/OCZ 3500, we continue using them so results can be compared to previous performance tests. We have also not yet determined which memory we will test with in the future.
    Reply
  • NFS4 - Monday, April 26, 2004 - link

    #3, my Asrock K8S8X fully supports Quiet-n-Cool on my A64 3200+ It idles at 800MHz, then switches from 1800MHz and then to 2000MHz depending on load. But I'd say that 90% of the time doing normal desktop work, it's at 800MHz. The only time I see it spike up is when I start a game or when I do something really CPU intensive.

    But remember, in order to get it to work, you have to have it enabled in BIOS and download the CPU driver from AMD's website and set your power management in Windows to "Minimal Power Management"
    Reply
  • Fr0zeN2 - Monday, April 26, 2004 - link

    Why do you keep testing with memory modules that aren't available on the market anymore? Reply
  • mikeymasta - Monday, April 26, 2004 - link

    Theres been a lot of talk that no motherboard maker/chipset maker fully supports AMDs cool and quiet...
    Does any one know what the status of support is on this board chipset?
    Reply
  • skiboysteve - Monday, April 26, 2004 - link

    i dont like this video card specific tweaking at all... Reply
  • mechBgon - Monday, April 26, 2004 - link

    Very interesting that this setup can run three double-sided DIMMs at DDR400 speeds. What stepping is the test system's CPU, if I may ask? Is it the same CPU that was not succeeding at running three DDR400 DIMMs stable on other boards/chipsets? Reply

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