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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  • Starstream - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - link

    Well, I currently have an MSI board and, frankly, I would have to really have my arm twisted before I bought another. Zillions of issues with their support and documentation. I don't know...this is impressive. The "cross mount" memory slots are an interesting twist.
  • ksherman - Sunday, August 22, 2004 - link

    this is probably a dump question, but here goes:
    since the 3200 OCs to the level of the 3800, does that mean i am essentially (if i can reach those speeds of course) getting a 3800 in term of performance? the 3800 are clocked at 2.4GHz, and the only real difference in the processors is the clock speed correct? so a $600+ card for around $200+ seemd like a good deal to me...
  • Klaasman - Saturday, May 8, 2004 - link

    When are these due to be available in the USA for purchase??
  • l3ored - Saturday, May 1, 2004 - link

    i'd really like to know weather the 300fsb outperformed the max oc, then i can make memory purchase decisions, perhaps a follow up review is in order?
  • MadAd - Wednesday, April 28, 2004 - link

    Raid Questions: a) I run a fasttrack tx2000 with 4 IDE drives and am wondering would I be able to use the 2 IDE channels for raid 0+1 and get a SATA to IDE converter to run an optical drive or two?

    b) The last raid review at AT was Jun 2001. With new provison for raid in nf250 plus older high end boards offering variations of highpoint and promise on board plus sata raid vs ide becoming a factor, wouldnt this be a good time for another one?
  • AtaStrumf - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    Same as ATi X800Pro. Well, well don't we have a lot of 8's on the 6th. Too bad I got an exam on that very same day. Hope I get an 8 as well :)
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    #19 -

    Several nF3-250 boards are expected at Anandtech in the next couple of weeks. They are starting to show up from many manufacturers.

    Also, VIA's update to the K8T800 Pro will launch on May 6.
  • hifisoftware - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    Very, very nice review.

    OC bench would not hurt, but otherwise OC is very well covered.

    I belive RAID was covered in the chipset review.

    One thing that I would've really liked is to know when other mobos are coming out. It would seem that even without overclocking this chipset should not be slower then previous. So maybe another motherboard is gogin to be a bit faster.

  • mikeymasta - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    Also how 'real' is the hardware raid on the nforce3?
    I mean can I setup a simple 2 hd based mirror raid have install FreeBSD 5.2.1 and expect it to see only 1 drive like 'true' hardware based raid or is this just software based crap that boil down to just extra IDE ports that only do so called 'raid' by software drivers?

    Personally if I was in charge of making standards I would make rule #1 of the standard of raid being that you cant put the word 'raid' on your software product unless its true hardware based raid!
    Bit like the true standard of PC133 ram where it couldn't be classed as 'PC133' memory unless it had a clearly printed label on it with letters 'PC133' for a start, (I remember anand pointing that out a long time ago)
  • AtaStrumf - Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - link

    Yep, we want OC benchies!

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