Announcing high end products and 'Halo' type hardware is relatively easy for manufacturers - slap some snazzy artwork next to a few pictures, wring a few industry related endorsements, put the major selling points in big letters, write a website page for it, and maybe run a competition to let a couple of people win one.    For entry level boards, it's a different matter - make it work well, and price it right.  This is exactly what MSI are trying to do on their new 740GM-P25.

Pre-orders costing around $59, this latest microATX board from MSI combines AMD's 740 and SB710 chipsets, and support for AM3 processors. Along with the board including core unlocking software, there are two DDR3-1333 memory slots, one PCI-E Gen2 x16 slot (which MSI markets as supporting Hybrid Crossfire which is odd), 2 PCI-E x1 slots, 6 SATA 3Gb/s slots (4 parallel to the board, 2 sticking out of the board), an IDE port, Atheros Gigabit LAN and VIA 8-channel audio.  Onboard video is supplied by the integrated HD2100, while onboard RAID is the standard 0 / 1 / 0+1 and JBOD affair.

In terms of HTPC, here we see a low-end board that ticks some or most of the boxes people will look for - just drop in a low profile video card, audio card, and a HDD RAID controller for RAID 5 to start.  The positioning of that 4-pin 12V CPU power connector may cause issues in cases, and there may not be enough USB 2 ports (four on the back panel), but you get what you pay for.  Check online retailers soon for pre-order information.

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  • loimlo - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    I'll second your opinion. I can live with no HDMI/Display port, but DVI should be a must even on budget boards. D-Sub is too old-fashioned and ought to be left behind the back. Reply
  • IanCutress - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    Hey guys,
    This was my news article and it does look like I've missed a few issues (I could blame working at night, but that isn't a valid excuse) as well as a bad typo on the 740/790 front. It didn't click the bad combination of AM2+ and DDR3 when I read the press release and the spec sheets. The MSI database still contains the errors, but for whatever reason my mind didn't engage. Many thanks to those who have noted, and we've changed the article to reflect this. Don't forget, we're all human - you, me, MSI also.

    All the best,
    Ian
    Reply
  • AlB80 - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    Ops. It's me again. RS740 supports only PCI-E Gen1.1 Reply
  • Goty - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    I don't know for sure (too lazy to go look up the prices), but couldn't you get a decent 785G board for not much more than this? For the cost of adding all of the peripherals to make this a competent HTPC board, you'd probably end up better going with something else. Reply
  • ducksoop - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    Hey guys,

    What IS going on with AMD? 740/710 is old news. 8xx is VERY slow in developing. Thank god someone broke with tradition by putting 2x PCIe x1 slots on a u-board!... even with a 710. Gigabyte has a 760 with 4 DIMMS but they don't import to the US? Even the 880 uses a 710 and at best the 850. What are they waiting for?

    Intel went gang-busters with the 55/57/58 chipsets. AMD is dragging their feet. WHY? Terrific processors! Minimal improvements on the boards. Do they have something really sneaky hidden up their sleeve for the next tick? We've seen 2 tocks now.. I don't understand. ITX is suffering - they're losing that ball game totally giving it up to Intel/NV. Their board tech is basically stagnant - 2 years old. Why won't they put a 5xxx graphics chip on the boards? We're stuck with low end last gen. It doesn't make sense.

    I KNOW the development money is with Intel. AMD has climbed out of their hole only to pause.... Great - we've got 6 cores .. And they're still putting out NEW 710's? I do have to applaud AMD for not changing sockets - forcing a completely new expensive rebuild.. but when are they going to make it worth OUR time and money? Are they afraid of huge profits.. really competing with Intel?

    It's time for AMD to really step up to the plate and hit a home run and kick butt. I know they can do it. Why aren't they? When is it going to happen? Anyone got a clue? I know it's all about money. With their failure to pull out all the stops - they're flat out giving it away. I know they can do better.. but when will it happen? How about it Anand.. Raj... how about a hint? We've been waiting too long.
    Reply
  • AlB80 - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    1. AMD was stalling for time so that fusion (DX11) was successful.
    2. MSI have 760GM-E51, 785GM-E51, 785GM-E65. I think this mobos are near to perfect. 740 is below then acceptable today.
    Reply
  • DaveSimmons - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    Even the $79 ECS H55H-I min-ITX on the front page has optical and coax ports on the back. Leaving them off of a modern board is sad. Reply
  • Allio - Saturday, May 08, 2010 - link

    This looks like a good cheap little fileserver board to me (especially because MSI usually has exemplary power consumption), but the 740G chipset is really not too hot in a HTPC. Can it even offload H264 decoding? Any of MSI's 785G boards uATX boards would be far better suited. Reply
  • whitehat2k9 - Sunday, May 09, 2010 - link

    If you want to do any HD playback surely the HD 2100 IGP on the 740G chipset won't cut it, as it lacks UVD hardware decoding. This more or less means you need a discrete GPU...hardly ideal for a budget HTPC builder, especially when 785G boards can be had for just a bit more. Reply
  • dmk2000 - Sunday, May 09, 2010 - link

    I can uderstand the idea behind only offer VGA. In reality, most users will purchase dedicated video card, therefore providing only vga will keep cost down. Reply

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