Basic Features: MSI K8N Neo Platinum

 Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket 754 Athlon 64
Chipset nVidia nForce3-250Gb
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 300MHz (in 1MHz increments)
PCI/AGP Speeds Auto, 66MHz to 100MHz (in 1MHz increments)
Core Voltage Default to 1.81V in % increments
(with 1.50V, 1.57V, 1.60V, 1.65V, 1.68V, 1.73V, 1.76V, 1.81V)
DRAM Voltage Auto, 2.5V to 2.85V in 0.05V increments
AGP Voltage 1.5V-1.85V in 0.05V increments
AUTO Overclock D.O.T. Ranger, 1%, 3%, 5%, 7%, 9%, 11%
Memory Slots Three 184-pin DDR DIMM Slots
Unbuffered Non-ECC Memory to 2GB Total
Expansion Slots 1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA/IDE RAID nVidia 4-Drive SATA Plus 4-Drive IDE
IDE/SATA can be combined in 0, 1, 0+1
Onboard IDE Two Standard nVidia ATA133/100/66
(4 drives)
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by nF3-250
2 1394A FireWire ports by VIA VT630
Onboard LAN Gigabit Ethernet on-chip by nF3-250GB
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC850
8-Channel with UAJ
BIOS Revision 1.13 (4/15/04)

You should have no trouble finding the black-on-foil K8N Neo package on dealer's shelves. While the package is not as flashy as past MSI boards, the Platinum series still stands out.

Several manufacturers have been paying more attention lately to the internal protection and presentation of motherboards. MSI uses 2 internal packages; one for the accessories and manuals, and one for the motherboard itself.

MSI includes red-wrapped IDE and floppy cables, and orange SATA cables. Against the black K8N Neo, these will certainly stand out. A molex power converter is included for 2 SATA drives. Additional brackets are in the box for 2 additional USB Ports combined with MSI's trademark 4-LED diagnostics, and for standard and mini Firewire.

The single chip nVidia nForce3-250Gb is used for K8N Neo Platinum. For more information on this chipset, you can refer to our launch articles for this new chipset:

nForce3-250 - Part 2: Taking Athlon 64 to the Next Level
nForce3-250 - Part 1: Taking Athlon 64 to the Next Level

MSI used only a passive heatsink on the K8N Neo. We found that the heatsink got very hot after running for a few hours, particularly during overclocking. We would recommend that those planning to overclock or heavily load the K8N Neo replace the passive heatsink with an active heatsink and fan. Fortunately, standard mounting holes are provided and there are spare fan connectors nearby. The K8N Neo never crashed from the heat, but better cooling is likely needed.

This is the first board that we have tested to use the Realtek ALC850 7.1 audio chip. This 8-channel audio codec is fully AC '97 2.3 compliant and features 16-bit 8-channel audio and auto-jack sensing with support for a full range of analog and digital IO. A wide range of sound standards are supported, including:
  • EAXTM 1.0 & 2.0 compatible
  • Direct Sound 3DTM compatible
  • A3DTM compatible
  • I3DL2 compatible
  • HRTF 3D positional audio
  • SensauraTM 3D Enhancement
The ALC850 CODEC provides four pairs of stereo outputs, with 5-Bit volume controls and multiple stereo and mono inputs, along with flexible mixing, and gain and mute functions. Two 50mW/20ohm headset audio amplifiers are integrated at Front-Out and Surround-Out, and both amplifiers are selectable for Front-Out, Line-In and Mic-In as a Universal Audio Jack.

You can find more details on the recently released ALC850 at Realtek product information.

The ALC650 is complemented by 5 audio mini-jacks plus both Optical and coaxial SPDIF connectors on the back IO panel. IO also includes PS2 mouse and keyboard, parallel, 1 serial, 1 standard Firewire (IEEE1394), 4 USB, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. MSI has provided an exceptional array of IO options on the M8N Neo Platinum, and buyers will generally be pleased with the provided options.

The K8N Neo fully supports the innovative nVidia "Any Drive" RAID. Any of the standard 4 IDE drives or an additional 4 SATA drives can be combined in a Raid 0 (striping), Raid 1 (Mirroring), or Raid 0+1 array. This is the most flexible RAID arrangement that we have seen built into any chipset.

On-chip Gigabit LAN is built-in with the nF3-250Gb and runs completely independent of the PCI bus. This ensures that the LAN is always capable of providing the fastest throughput possible with your LAN connections.

Three DIMM slots support up to 2GB of up to DDR400 memory in a Single-Channel memory configuration. The Athlon 64 will support Dual Channel memory with the introduction of Socket 939. However, as we have discussed in other reviews, the Athlon 64 is not as dependent on memory bandwidth as Pentium 4 solutions. The single-channel socket 754 is just as fast as the dual-channel Athlon 64 FX chips in many applications.

Index Board Layout: MSI K8N Neo Platinum


View All Comments

  • 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. Reply
  • 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 08, 2004 - link

    When are these due to be available in the USA for purchase?? Reply
  • l3ored - Saturday, May 01, 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? Reply
  • 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 :) Reply
  • 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! Reply

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