Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1103



Today we're kicking off this month with an 875P motherboard review, several more of which you'll be reading about in the coming weeks of May. As Intel begins to ramp up 800MHz FSB processor production as we speak, more and more users will be deciding which 800MHz FSB compatible motherboard they'll be choosing for a while. Does today's motherboard have what it takes?

Let's examine our third retail 875P motherboard to see if MSI is able to outplay top tier motherboard makers Gigabyte and ASUS in the high-performance Pentium 4 desktop motherboard market. Read on to find out what this motherboard offers and why we were impressed with it...



MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R: Basic Features

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface
Socket-478
Chipset
Intel 82875P MCH (North Bridge)
Intel 82801ER ICH5R (South Bridge)
Bus Speeds
up to 500MHz (in 1MHz increments)
Core Voltages Supported
up to 1.95V (in 0.05V increments after 1.60V, in 0.0125V increments before 1.60V)
I/O Voltages Supported
N/A
DRAM Voltages Supported
Supported up to 3.30V (in 0.05V increments excluding 3.00V-3.10V)
Memory Slots
4 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots
1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard RAID
Promise PDC20378 Controller (two SATA connectors)
Intel ICH5R Serial ATA RAID (RAID 0 & RAID 1 only)
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394
Eight USB 2.0 ports supported through South Bridge
VT6306 IEEE-1394 FireWire Controller (up to 3 ports total)
Onboard LAN
Intel PRO/1000CT Gigabit LAN (CSA bus)
Onboard Audio
Analog Devices AD1985 Controller
Onboard Serial ATA
Two SATA connectors via Promise PDC20378 Controller
Two SATA connectors via ICH5R
BIOS Revision
1.0

It seems like Analog Devices has been busy getting customers to convert over to their sound controllers recently. As if ASUS and Intel weren't already enough, Analog Devices has gotten MSI to include their AD1985 sound controller on the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R motherboard we're reviewing today.

Analog Devices had expressed their drive to rival and even overtake their competitors (read: Realtek/Avance Logic) in the onboard sound market as well as eventually the add-in sound card market. In combination with the AD1985 controller and the software that comes with the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R, you're able to plug in your speakers into whichever audio jack you like, since this sound solution allows you to dynamically switch your MIC, Line-in and Line-out ports. This technology is called "Jack Sensing", and we're quite glad it has finally come.

Realtek has an identical technology ready for mass production (dubbed the ALC655), found in Gigabyte's 875P series of motherboards.

The 875P Neo-FIS2R's onboard LAN is powered by the same Gigabit chip found on Gigabyte's 8KNXP Ultra and regular 8KNXP. We're glad that MSI utilizes the 875P's independent Gigabit bus technology (called Communications Streaming Architecture, or CSA). For more information regarding CSA and its benefits, take a look at page 5 of our Intel 875P chipset review.

The 875P Neo-FIS2R's I/O configuration contains a nice bundle of ports, which includes two PS/2 ports, two serial ports, one parallel port, six rear USB 2.0 ports, one Gigabit LAN port, and Mic In, Line In, and Line Out, which drive the onboard sound. While the 875P Neo-FIS2R doesn't have rear IEEE 1394 FireWire or optical out like the P4C800 Deluxe, the six rear USB 2.0 ports are a nice touch. The extra USB 2.0 ports are nice as it saves you some time on having to install a USB 2.0 bracket. Of course, we're assuming 6 USB ports are enough, some may want to take advantage of the extra two ports that can be activated via the 9-pin USB 2.0 header and the MSI-bundled two-port bracket.

Like all motherboards with an 875P/ICH5(R) chipset combination, there are two Serial ATA connectors located next to the ICH5 South Bridge (ICH5R in the 875P Neo-FIS2R's case). As you may or may not already know, this new South Bridge controls both SATA connectors and in fact allows a stream of 266MB/s of data instead of the slower, PCI bus constrained 133MB/s which can get awfully clogged with having to attend to other needy components. Read through our 875P chipset review to understand the benefits of placing the Serial ATA controller in the South Bridge as opposed to a separate PCI Serial ATA controller.

We are very pleased to see that the 875P Neo-FIS2R contains exceptional IDE/Serial ATA drive support. As is always the case there are two standard IDE connectors, dubbed the Primary and Secondary IDE connectors, which support two channels each or up to four IDE drives total.

The 875P Neo-FIS2R's Promise PDC20378 controller powers the third IDE controller on this motherboard, and is capable of supporting exactly two IDE drives. This same Promise PDC20378 controller also powers two Serial ATA connectors in addition to the two ICH5-bound Serial ATA connectors. You'll be able to connect one drive to each of the four SATA connectors powered by the ICH5 and Promise SATA connectors. So in total, you'll be able to connect four SATA and six IDE drives to this motherboard, which equals a grand total of ten possible drives that can be connected to this motherboard. As we said in our ASUS P4C800 Deluxe review, most desktop users will find this feature to be nice instead of necessary; but there will always be those who desire this capability for something a little more potent than desktop usage.

One of the most interesting features MSI has introduced with the 875P Neo-FIS2R is a new proprietary technology dubbed CoreCell. From what we can gather, CoreCell acts as a system "health" monitoring device. In theory, CoreCell is supposed to be able to regulate four things: fan speeds (CPU, North Bridge, etc.) to reduce noise and keep temperatures low, onboard components durability, power savings during idle system activity, and higher overclocking potential (read: performance) through efficient voltage management. Of course, MSI merely provides their own in-house testing as proof, and even these four claims can't be validated by our own labs as there isn't any way of controlling or testing CoreCell; that is, there are no CoreCell options of any kind available in the 875P Neo-FIS2R's BIOS (version 1.0). However, there is a nice CoreCell Windows utility that allows you to adjust fan speeds, but this still doesn't explain MSI's other claims (onboard components durability, power savings during idle activity, etc.). CoreCell seems like a great idea on paper, but until we can reproduce MSI's claims of "better durability" or "50% less fan noise in idle mode", CoreCell will stay a nice idea on paper.

It's nice to see IEEE 1394 FireWire support is included onboard the 875P Neo-FIS2R. The IEEE 1394 FireWire controller is bound to the PCI bus and is powered by the VIA VT6306. One of the few negative things about the ICH5's new features is the lack of native IEEE 1394 FireWire support, and this is why we see the VT6306 controller included with the 875P Neo-FIS2R.

MSI picked a good IEEE 1394 FireWire chip to implement compared to what ASUS picked for their P4C800 Deluxe. That is, the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R's IEEE 1394 FireWire controller (VIA VT6306) is capable of supporting three independent ports while the ASUS P4C800 Deluxe's VIA VT6307 controller supports just two independent IEEE 1394 FireWire ports. You can activate the 875P Neo-FIS2R's FireWire ports by simply plugging in the three-port FireWire bracket that MSI bundles with the 875P Neo-FIS2R. If you'd like to read more about this controller, visit this web page.



MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R: Board Layout

In general we were very pleased with the 875P Neo-FIS2R's layout.

We were pleased to see the ATX (20-pin) connector positioned towards the top and on the right-hand side of the PCB. Locating the ATX connector here is good for case organization and convenience as the thick wires won't obstruct the installation/uninstallation of the CPU HSF (especially bigger ones) or the North Bridge heatsink, as well as any other components that you may decide to modify or uninstall in that area. If we had to nitpick, we would have preferred that the ATX connector were just a tad higher up on the board by about another inch.

Unfortunately the ATX12V connector is located over on the left-hand side of the PCB near the I/O ports. We aren't at all fond of this location because the ATX12V cable from a standard PSU will run directly over the CPU HSF, making it impossible to uninstall this HSF until you unhook the ATX12V line. Of course, higher quality PSUs have extra long ATX12V and ATX cables, so this won't be an issue with these particular PSUs.

The Primary and Secondary IDE connectors are placed exactly where we like to see them, on the right-hand side of the PCB to right of the DIMM slots and above the midsection of the motherboard. We've experienced what a hassle it can be to have the Primary and Secondary IDE connectors placed on the lower portion of the motherboard, as it makes it much more difficult for IDE cables to reach to the highest bays of a large-sized ATX case. We're glad MSI decided to put the Floppy connector next to the right of the Primary and Secondary IDE connectors, as the Floppy drive bay location should mitigate any possible cable tangling that could occur with the Primary and Secondary IDE cables.

MSI includes an active North Bridge heatsink to cool down the 875P North Bridge. This active heatsink is more than enough to cool the North Bridge; the active heatsink was barely warm to the touch at full load. Interestingly enough MSI decided to add green, blue and red flashing lights to the North Bridge heatsink for users that have see-through cases.

Thankfully MSI places the DIMM connectors far enough away from the AGP slot so that it doesn't become a hassle to uninstall the video card if you want to install or uninstall memory. Those of you that frequently upgrade and maintain your hardware know how annoying cramped DIMM connector space can be, or any cramped space for that matter.

Near the I/O ports are voltage regulator heatsinks that MSI is well-known for using in quite a few of their high-end motherboards. It certainly doesn't seem all that unnecessary as these tiny heatsinks get quite warn to the touch at full load. MSI claims that these heatsinks should aid in overclocking, though we're skeptical of its real-world usefulness.

The location of the USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 FireWire headers are perfect; there is one USB 2.0 header located at the very bottom edge of the PCB just below the 5th PCI slot. This is excellent positioning as there's basically no chance of your USB 2.0 bracket getting tangled up with any other wires/cables or hardware components. Similarly, there are three IEEE 1394 FireWire headers located just to the right of the USB 2.0 header, and all are located well enough that the FireWire bracket cables won't be obstructing much. Though, we did notice that the FireWire header located closest to the right edge of the board could get tangled with one of the Promise-controlled Serial ATA connectors if you were to use this controller for your Serial ATA hard drive. Otherwise, USB/FireWire header locations are excellent.



MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R: BIOS and Overclocking

May 7th, 2003 Update: Before we go on we should mention a few BIOS issues we ran into that we have been unable to confirm until recent hours. These issues are well documented over the Internet by various users of MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R and MSI 875P Neo-LSR motherboards that ship with BIOS versions 1.1 and 1.2. These problems are two-fold (so far):

1. Overclocking via the BIOS using BIOS version 1.1 or 1.2 with MSI 875P motherboards is broken, you must use MSI's Windows CoreCell overclocking utility bundled with your motherboard.

And

2. High voltage and temperature variation.

The first issue does not seem to affect MSI 875P motherboards using BIOS version 1.0, which we used for this review during 800MHz FSB overclocking. The second issue seems to be related to MSI's new CoreCell technology. CoreCell is very aggressive with how it regulates voltages during idle and heavy loads, and apparently this is what has caused such large variance.

We are currently working with MSI to see if they can remedy these issues immediately, as this is not acceptable for enthusiasts that like to push their motherboard to the limit. We will report our findings in our 875P roundup later this month.

It's not surprising to see that MSI chose the AMI BIOS setup for the 875P Neo-FIS2R, as most of their motherboards are based on this type of BIOS.

The 875P Neo-FIS2R's PC Health section includes a good amount of pertinent info in regards to system activity. For example, some readings include CPU and System temperature, CPU and North Bridge fan speed, Vcore, battery voltage and then PSU readings (all rails). Unfortunately MSI did not include some sort of CPU fan speed control option in this section like other motherboard makers have been doing for quite some time. This is certainly a concern for users who are sensitive to PC components noise. Though we should mention that there is a nice Windows utility that allows fan speed adjustments in multiple intervals. We should also note that the temperature readings were quite erratic, which is a BIOS issue that MSI is working on.

In the DRAM timing section of the Advanced Chipset Features section there are options available for tweaking system performance such as CAS Latency, Precharge to Active, Active to Precharge, Active to CMD, and DRAM burst length. These type of DRAM timing options are common among motherboards based on Intel chipsets, and is really all that is necessary to leverage good memory performance (besides frequency control of course).

The Frequency/Voltage Control section holds a whole reservoir of performance and voltage tweaking options. These include CPU multiplier options (which you won't be able to use because there are no unlocked Pentium 4 processors publicly available on the open market), DRAM frequency, FSB frequency, AGP/PCI frequency, Vcore, VDIMM, and VAGP.

Using a 533MHz FSB processor your only options available are dual DDR266 and dual DDR333 mode. With an 800MHz FSB processor your memory frequency options add one other option: dual DDR400 support. These memory frequency options obviously aren't all that spectacular for users that demand wide frequency flexibility, but what's good to know is that overclockers won't be limited by too high a memory speed with a very high FSB, as there are options as low as DDR266 when a FSB value of 200MHz or more is saved to CMOS. In other words, you've got 3:2, 5:4 and 1:1 memory divider options to choose from.

Another feature that can be found in the 875P Neo-FIS2R's Frequency/Voltage Control section is FSB adjustments up to 500MHz in 1MHz increments. Of course, reaching 500MHz FSB (that's a 2GHz QDR FSB) won't be possible anytime in the near future, however hard you overclockers try. Still, it's nice to see that some motherboard makers are at least making sure that there is absolutely no chance that users in the future will need a BIOS update to allow for higher FSB speeds like with MSI's nForce2 series of motherboards.

The VDIMM adjustments in the 875P Neo-FIS2R's Frequency/Voltage Control section are the best we've seen from any Pentium 4 motherboard to date. VDIMM is adjustable as high as 3.30V, and not in just 0.1V increments but in 0.05V increments too (except between 3.00V and 3.10V). 3.30V is an extremely high memory voltage, and one that will certainly cause damage to your memory sooner rather than later. However, performance tweakers will rejoice over this high voltage, and will especially like the nice added bonus of being able to more finely tune VDIMM in 0.05V increments instead of the traditional 0.1V increments (which is definitely the more useful of the two features).

MSI goes all out again and adds a VAGP tweaking option available as high as 2.10V in 0.1V increments. This type of VAGP ceiling is way beyond the recommend (default) 1.5V-1.6V VAGP spec, but again, overvolters won't care and so will be more than pleased that they now have additional room to run their motherboard out of spec for maximum performance.

As if a maximum FSB of 500MHz, VDIMM of 3.30V and VAGP of 2.10V wasn't enough to convince you that the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R is an overclocker's motherboard, add Vcore to the list; adjustments are available as high 1.95V in 0.05V increments after 1.60V and in 0.0125V increments before 1.60V. While there isn't the traditional 0.025V or 0.0125V Vcore increments available after 1.60V, 0.05V really isn't all that bad when you have the option of going as high as 1.95V. Vcore fluctuated between 1.46V-1.54V with a 1.50V processor. We did notice some very wide fluctuation changes though; that is, Vcore would occasionally dip to 1.42V, but would also rise as high as 1.58V; most of the time it was between 1.48V-1.52V. Still, this is an issue MSI needs to address in a future BIOS update as we're assuming that the motherboard doesn't actually have issues in supplying a clean voltage signal to the CPU (if the voltage did actually fluctuate that much we'd probably see instability during our FSB overclocking stress tests).

As always we see the handy AGP/PCI lock present in 875P Neo-FIS2R BIOS; in fact, it's adjustable up to a massive 151.01MHz/75.50MHz. This is yet another oveclocker-friendly feature that can be found in the Frequency/Voltage Control section of the 875P Neo-FIS2R BIOS.

All in all we are truly delighted (if not a bit surprised) to see this type of overclocker-friendly BIOS setup from MSI. MSI isn't particularly known for their overclocking motherboards, but we can say that has all changed with the 875P Neo-FIS2R, easily the most overclocker-friendly Pentium 4 motherboard (in terms of BIOS features) we've ever come across. As you're about to see, MSI's 875P Neo-FIS2R just didn't live up to the overclocker-friendly BIOS hype, as this board was hardly a slouch when it came to actual overclocking.



FSB Overclocking Results

The following is our 800MHz FSB setup we used for FSB overclocking on the 875P Neo-FIS2R:

Front Side Bus Overclocking Testbed

Processor:
Pentium 4 2.4GHz (800MHz FSB) CPU - HT Disabled
CPU Vcore:
1.525V (default)
Cooling:
Intel Retail HSF & Thermal Pad
Power Supply:
Enermax 350W

Our previous retail 875P motherboard reviews showed great FSB overclocking ability with just an ES (Engineering Sample) processor, and the results are thankfully carried over to the 875P Neo-FIS2R.

Using our new FSB Overclocking Testbed we were able to hit 241MHz FSB. This is considered a middle-of-the-road FSB overclock for an 875P motherboard when you look at our Gigabyte and ASUS 875P overclocking results. As we mentioned in past 875P motherboard reviews, you should be aware that you won't be able to run your FSB synchronously with your memory. We'll closely examine which FSB/memory combinations yield better performance in a future article. Preliminary results suggest the sky-high FSB overclocks we've experienced with 875P motherboards is enough to gain a definitive performance edge over a low FSB and high memory frequency combination.



MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R: Stress Testing

We managed to stress test the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R in several different areas and configurations, including:

1. Chipset and motherboard stress testing was conducted by running the FSB at 241MHzMHz.
2. Memory stress testing was conducted by running RAM at 333MHz and 400MHz in dual DDR operation at the most aggressive timings possible.

Front Side Bus Stress Test Results:

As usual we ran a large load of stress tests and benchmarks to ensure the 875P Neo-FIS2R was absolutely stable at each overclocked FSB speed we experimented with. We ran our usual array of stress tests, including Prime95 torture tests, which were run in the background for a total of 48 hours. We also proceeded to run lots of other tasks such as data compression, various DX8 games, and light apps like Word and Excel while Prime95 was running in the background. Finally, we reran our entire benchmark suite, which includes Sysmark 2002, Quake3 Arena, Unreal Tournament 2003, SPECviewperf 7.0, and XMPEG. In the end, 241MHz FSB was the highest overclock we were able to achieve with our conservative overclocking setup without encountering any reliability problems.

Memory Stress Test Results:

The following memory stress test gauges how well the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R is able to handle dual DDR333 mode with all memory banks filled. This has proven to be a simple task for the vast majority of Dual Channel DDR Pentium 4 motherboards based on SiS and Intel chipsets, so let's see if the 875P Neo-FIS2R is any different:

Stable Dual DDR333 Timings
(4/4 banks populated)

Clock Speed:
166MHz
Timing Mode:
N/A
CAS Latency:
2.0
Bank Interleave:
N/A
Precharge to Active:
2T
Active to Precharge:
5T
Active to CMD:
2T
Command Rate:
N/A

Again, nothing surprising here, a dual channel DDR400 motherboard like the 875P Neo-FIS2R shouldn't have problems running in this configuration. Anything significantly worse than these memory timing results (like CAS 2.5/3T/6T/3T) would be unacceptable.

Here is where we've seen some variation in memory timing capabilities, though thankfully no platform has really shown any large degree of variance. This more strenuous situation includes all four memory banks filled to capacity running in dual DDR400 mode:

Stable Dual DDR400 Timings
(4/4 banks populated)

Clock Speed:
200MHz
Timing Mode:
N/A
CAS Latency:
2.0
Bank Interleave:
N/A
Precharge to Active:
3T
Active to Precharge:
6T
Active to CMD:
2T
Command Rate:
N/A

This is actually the largest degree of variance we've seen from any dual channel DDR Pentium 4 motherboard at 400MHz DDR. Even though these aren't the best timings available, the real world performance difference is negligible.

As usual, we ran several memory stress tests and general apps to make sure all these timings were stable. We started off by running Prime95 torture tests; a grand total of 24 hours of Prime95 was successfully run at the timings listed in the above charts. We also ran Sciencemark (memory tests only) and Super Pi. Neither stress test was able to bring the 875P Neo-FIS2R to its knees.



MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R: Tech Support and RMA

For your reference, we will repost our support evaluation procedure here:

The way our Tech Support evaluation works is first we anonymously email the manufacturer's tech support address(es), obviously not using our AnandTech mail server to avoid any sort of preferential treatment. Our emails (we can and will send more than one just to make sure we're not getting the staff on an "off" day) all contain fixable problems that we've had with our motherboard. We then give the manufacturer up to 72 hours to respond over business days and will report not only whether they even responded within the time allotted but also if they were successful in fixing our problems. If we do eventually receive a response after the review is published, we will go back and amend the review with the total time it took for the manufacturer to respond to our requests.

The idea here is to encourage manufacturers to improve their technical support as well as provide new criteria to base your motherboard purchasing decisions upon; with motherboards looking more and more alike every day, we have to help separate the boys from the men in as many ways as possible. As usual, we're interested in your feedback on this and other parts of our reviews so please do email us with your comments.

MSI's policy is pretty straight forward, and hasn't changed since the last time we reviewed an MSI motherboard. As you can clearly see from reading their RMA policy, end users must contact the vendor from which they purchased their MSI motherboard from (like Newegg or Mwave for example) if they want an RMA. MSI does not directly take RMA's according to their web site. The remaining info above only applies to resellers.

MSI's tech support still wasn't responsive compared to the last time we checked up on them. We did not receive a reply within the 72 hour timeframe we always designate. This isn't terribly surprising for two reasons:

1. Top tier motherboard makers usually don't have stellar tech support, especially compared to second tier manufacturers, and,

2. MSI has missed several tech support response time deadlines, and has only once been able to respond to our tech support email on time, barely making our deadline by 8 hours in fact.

MSI still offers a very clear and informative amount of technical support information however. If you go to MSI's U.S. page on technical support you'll find contact information for the Sales, Marketing, and Technical Support departments as well as three different regional offices you can contact during the week if you have any questions about MSI products in general. There are even "Direction and Map" links that offer a way for the user to visit MSI's Regional offices.

MSI is also able to provide tech support and information to many different countries, continents and languages. Some of these countries and continents include Australia, Brazil, China, Czech, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Taiwan, and the USA among others.

As is still the case, MSI's RMA policy is clearly disappointing, especially compared to second tier motherboard makers. Sadly, this is the case with most tier one motherboard makers. MSI's tech support performance was also equally disappointing this time. A redeeming quality though was MSI's sales, marketing and contact information that are clearly illustrated on their web site.



Performance Test Configuration

Performance Test Configuration

Processor(s):
Intel Pentium 4 3.00GHz (800MHz FSB) - HT enabled
RAM:
2 x 256MB Corsair PC3200 TwinX Modules
1 x 512MB Corsair PC3200 XMS Module
Hard Drive(s):
Western Digital 120GB 7200 RPM Special Edition (8MB Buffer)
Bus Master Drivers:
845PE: Intel INF Update v4.04.1012 and Intel Application Accelerator v2.3
875P: Intel INF Update v5.00.1012, no 875P IAA available at time of publishing
Video Card(s):
ASUS V8460 Ultra NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
Video Drivers:
NVIDIA Detonator 41.09
Operation System(s):
Windows XP Professional SP1
Motherboards:
ABIT IC7-G (875P)
ABIT BH7 (845PE)
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P)
Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P)
MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R (875P)
Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P)

All performance tests run on the 875P-based motherboards utilized two 256MB Corsair TwinX PC3200 modules set to CAS 2/2T/5T/2T timings running in dual channel DDR400 mode. Any other performance-enhancing timings (like Command Rate or Bank Interleave) were enabled in 875P-based motherboards that contained such timings.

All performance tests run on the ABIT BH7 (845PE) motherboard utilized one 512MB Corsair XMS PC3200 module set to CAS 2/2T/5T/2T timings and running at 400MHz DDR. Optimal settings were loaded in the BH7 BIOS before memory timings were altered to CAS 2/2T/5T/2T and saved to CMOS.

Unfortunately we were unable to find a SiS 655 motherboard (and that includes the Gigabyte SINXP1394 used in our 800MHz FSB preview) that could run an 800MHz FSB CPU, with or without HT enabled. We were also unable to find an E7205, 850E, or SiS R658 motherboard that could run these same 800MHz FSB processors. There's a possibility that your motherboard vendor will release a BIOS update to enable 800MHz FSB support on these boards, but we've been told this is highly unlikely, so don't hold your breath. Therefore, users should not expect their current SiS 655, SiS R658, E7205, or 850E motherboard to run an official 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 processor.



Content Creation & General Usage Performance

For our Content Creation & General Usage performance we continue to use SYSMark 2002. The applications benchmarked include:

  • Internet Content Generation: Adobe Photoshop 6.01, Adobe Premiere 6.0, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.1, Macromedia Dreamweaver 4, and Macromedia Flash 5
  • Office Productivity: Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Access 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, Dragon NaturallySpeaking Preferred v.5, WinZip 8.0, and McAfee VirusScan 5.13

For more information on the methodology and exactly what SYSMark does to generate these performance scores check out BAPCo's SYSMark 2002 Whitepaper.

General Usage Performance
Office Productivity SYSMark 2002
ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

221

219

219

217

214

198

|
0
|
44
|
88
|
133
|
177
|
221
|
265

Content Creation Performance
Internet Content Creation SYSMark 2002
Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

412

409

407

406

400

373

|
0
|
82
|
165
|
247
|
330
|
412
|
494



Media Encoding & Quake III Arena Performance

MPEG-4 Video Encoding Performance
MPEG-2 to DiVX Conversion using XMpeg 4.5 & DiVX 5.0.2 (Frames per Second - Higher is Better)
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

62.8

62.2

61.4

60.8

60.8

60.1

|
0
|
12
|
24
|
36
|
49
|
61
|
73

Gaming Performance
Quake III Arena - 1024x768 High Quality
MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

356.1

354.2

354.0

353.2

353.1

336.1

|
0
|
71
|
142
|
214
|
285
|
356
|
43



Unreal Tournament 2003 Performance - High Detail

Gaming Performance
Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo - Flyby 1024x768
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

186.44

185.92

185.27

185.13

184.87

180.39

|
0
|
37
|
75
|
112
|
149
|
186
|
224

Gaming Performance
Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo - Botmatch 1024x768
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

79.78

79.56

79.20

78.30

78.11

76.86

|
0
|
16
|
32
|
48
|
64
|
80
|
96



High End Workstation Performance - SPEC Viewperf 7.0

The latest version of SPEC Viewperf proves to be an excellent stress test for memory bandwidth and overall platform performance as you're about to see. The benchmarks included version 7 of the benchmark suite are:

3ds max (3dsmax-01)
Unigraphics (ugs-01)
Pro/Engineer (proe-01)
DesignReview (drv-08)
Data Explorer (dx-07)
Lightscape (light-05)

For more information on the tests run visit SPEC's page on the new Viewperf benchmark.

High End Workstation Performance
SPEC Viewperf 7.0 - 3DSMAX-01
MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

9.400

9.388

9.351

9.322

9.302

8.876

|
0
|
2
|
4
|
6
|
7
|
9
|
1

High End Workstation Performance
SPEC Viewperf 7.0 - DRV-08
ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

56.32

56.06

55.69

55.18

55.17

52.76

|
0
|
11
|
23
|
34
|
45
|
56
|
68

High End Workstation Performance
SPEC Viewperf 7.0 - DX-07
Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

28.33

28.32

28.16

27.94

27.77

27.14

|
0
|
6
|
11
|
17
|
23
|
28
|
34



High-End Workstation Performance (continued...)

High End Workstation Performance
SPEC Viewperf 7.0 - LIGHT-05
Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

12.88

12.12

12.10

12.03

11.89

9.295

|
0
|
3
|
5
|
8
|
10
|
13
|
2

High End Workstation Performance
SPEC Viewperf 7.0 - ProE-01
MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

10.44

10.38

10.15

10.10

9.909

9.212

|
0
|
2
|
4
|
6
|
8
|
10
|
13

High End Workstation Performance
SPEC Viewperf 7.0 - UGS-01
ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT IC7-G (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

MSI 875P Neo (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Gigabyte 8KNXP Ultra (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 (875P-Dual Channel DDR400)

ABIT BH7 (845PE-Single Channel DDR400)

3.983

3.967

3.930

3.916

3.906

3.632

|
0
|
1
|
2
|
2
|
3
|
4
|
5



Final Words

Having thoroughly testing the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R motherboard we have come to three conclusions:

1. The MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R is easily the most overclocker-friendly Pentium 4 motherboard we've ever come across, both in terms of BIOS options and FSB overclocking ability. There is one other motherboard we haven't given you a full review of yet that comes pretty close to matching the 875P Neo-FIS2R in this department, but right now the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R rules the roost.

2. The MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R is one of the most full-featured Pentium 4 desktop motherboard we've come across. We haven't taken at look at every single 875P motherboard so we can't say the 875P Neo-FIS2R is the most full featured P4 motherboard we've ever used, but it's darn close.

3. The MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R is available now (in the U.S. mainly) and it's a bargain for such a high-end, overclocker-friendly motherboard. MSI says the ASP (Average Selling Price) for the 875P Neo-FIS2R is $210, but at the moment you can find this motherboard for as low as $199, and no higher than $206 from a handful of well known U.S. online vendors. MSI says the U.S., Asia, Europe, and other major parts of the world should be receiving much larger quantities of 875P motherboards within the next seven days.

The average desktop user or hardcore enthusiast will be completely satisfied with the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R, as it pretty much offers everything these users could want. Obviously if you're looking for a low-cost motherboard with just a few basic onboard features and maybe some accessories here and there, you won't be considering the MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R but probably a cheap 865PE or SiS 655FX (the name of SiS' low-cost 800MHz FSB chipset is unknown at this time) motherboard.

We are being quite honest when we say that we can find very little wrong with this motherboard (save a few early BIOS issues that pop up with any newly introduced product). The features, price, overclocking-friendly setup and availability of this board are all exactly what we would want from our ideal desktop motherboard. In fact, MSI currently has a low-cost version of this board, though the price isn't really all that "low" at $175. This motherboard is called the MSI 875P Neo-LSR and is exactly the same as the 875P Neo-FIS2R save the onboard IEEE 1394 FireWire controller, Intel PRO/1000CT Gigabit LAN (CSA), and Promise RAID controller (only two Serial ATA connectors via the ICH5R South Bridge).

Stay tuned for several more 875P reviews to come…

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