small MSI K8T Neo2 FIR Review

MSI has just recently released their latest Athlon 64 motherboard, the K8T Neo2-FIR, based on the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset on the Socket 939 platform. Packed full of features, even including 802.11g functionality, will the K8T Neo2-FIR be the motherboard to own for the Socket 939 platform? Come take a look…

2 MSI K8T Neo2 FIR Review

Introduction:

With the launch of the Athlon 64 on the Socket 939 platform over a month in the past, our attention is now to the boards enthusiasts will buy to power the latest generation of Athlon 64 processors. Among the first to market is MSI, with their latest Athlon 64 motherboard, the K8T Neo2-FIR. You may remember that MSI made a lot of news with the first retail Nforce 3 250GB motherboard, the MSI K8N Neo Platinum, a very popular board for the Socket 754 Athlon 64 platform.

From our tests, the K8N Neo Platinum outperformed the different VIA K8T800 based boards currently on the market, making everyone think that the Nforce 3 250GB would be the chipset to own for the Athlon 64 in the months to come. Unfortunately, not many motherboard manufacturers have opted to support the Nforce 3 chipsets from NVIDIA on the Socket 939 platform, most have turned to VIA’s New K8T800 Pro chipset to power their newest desktop boards.

So what’s the difference between the K8T800 boards we tested last year and the new K8T800 Pro boards we’re seeing hit the market today? The two main differences are

asynchronous AGP and PCI clocks and support for HyperTransport clock speeds of 1GHz. The asynchronous AGP and PCI clocks are meant to give more overclocking headroom to enthusiasts, allowing higher bus speeds and better overclocks in general.

The board that we’ll be testing today is the MSI K8T Neo2-FIR, MSI’s latest Athlon 64 motherboard based on the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset. The K8T Neo2-FIR is MSI’s most feature rich AMD board currently in production, but will it have enough to take on the ASUS A8V Deluxe, another feature packed board that is based on the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset. How do these two boards stack up? Let’s take a closer look…

Specifications:

1 MSI K8T Neo2 FIR Review

Chipset
VIA K8T800 Pro
Processor Support
AMD socket 939 Athlon 64 + Athlon 64 FX CPU
System Bus
2000 MT/s
Memory
- 4 x 184-pin DIMM Sockets support max. 4GB DDR400/DDR333/DDR266 non-ECC un-buffered DDR SDRAM memory
- Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Voltages
VCore up to 1.75V
VDIMM up to 2.85V
VAGP up to 1.85V
Expansion Slots
1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots
IEEE394
VIA 1394 Controller supports 2 x 1394 ports
USB 2.0
8 USB2.0 ports

Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12″x 9.6″(30.5cm x 24.5cm)
Onboard IDE / SATA
IDE Channel : ATA133 x 2
Serial ATA Channel x 4
Integrated Components
10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
6-Channel AC97 CODEC
Onboard IEEE 1394a

Package Contents:

3 MSI K8T Neo2 FIR Review

•User Manual
•Easy Installation Guide
•Drivers & Utilities CD
•Floppy Disk cable x 1
•80-wire ATA133 cable x 1
•Serial ATA cable x 1
•Serial ATA Power cable x 1
•Wireless Network Card (802.11g)
•D Bracket x 1
•Back Panel I/O Shield x 1

The item that sticks out most in the MSI K8T Neo2-FIR’s bundle is the included wireless networking card. Supporting 802.11g, the card allows for easy wireless networking. Interestingly, the ASUS A8V Deluxe also includes a wireless networking card.