Socket 939 motherboards have been slow to matriculate into market since the platform was introduced June 1, 2004. The very first boards were based solely on the Via KT800Pro chipset which was fast and stable at stock speeds, but often left a bitter taste in the performance enthusiasts (read mad overclocker) mouth. Sure they had overclocking options, but that really wasn't the issue.
The problem was that in many cases the much lauded AGP/PCI lock that keeps your video card and peripherals at their prescribed MHz level rating were non-functional in many cases rendering the motherboard grossly limited in how far one could reasonably "tweak" their system before something catastrophic might happen. Ok, maybe catastrophic might be a bit harsh, but for those individuals spending the vast sums of hard earned greenbacks to enter this murky world of performance and pain, their hearts often sank once they learned they could not enjoy certain benefits or obtain goals they had perceived or set for themselves. Hope is not lost grasshopper, as newer boards are coming into channel that offer us much better stability, performance and dare I say YES; working locks for all.
AMD users have in the past 2 years begun to enjoy nVidia as a viable alternative to Via solutions as implemented into motherboards via Northbridge/Southbridge chipsets. The nForce2 and later the nForce2 Ultra 400 are arguably the best Athlon XP platforms on which to base your system.
nVidia saw fit to enter the world of Athlon64 with their NF3-150 chipset when socket 754 chips and Socket 940 chips were introduced. While lacking a full 800mhz HyperTransport (HT) bus which should have been standard for the Athlon64, the nVidia chipset was limited to 600mhz HT speeds. This made the NF3-150 slightly slower clock for clock than Via KT800 chipsets. However the nVidia solution was far more popular with the overclocking crowd as the chipset allowed locking AGP bus speeds at a certain speed to allow for some really impressive HTT speeds.
HTT being one component of the overall HT equation whereas HTT x LDT= HT bus speed (e.g. 200HTT x 4xLDT = 800mhz bus). Confusing? yes! Slow? By no means! For a better explanation of HyperTransport Technology please refer to this link
Second generation boards are now available from both Via and nVidia which have fixed some of the problems with earlier boards and offering a more complete vehicle on which to overdrive your Athlon64. Today we are looking at MSI
's latest offering, the K8N Neo2 Platinum Socket939 board featuring the nVidia NForce3 Ultra chipset.
Let’s take a closer look at the board ->