As shown above, the MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum is a very nice looking board. Those who modify their cases will be please with the black PCB (printed circuit board), and the variety of tastefully chosen colors that MSI had adorned the board with. MSI has chosen to place the ram slots above the CPU socket which I understand is to cut down on trace length to the CPU to preserve signal integrity.
However, I am no electrical engineer so I can only comment on what's been told to me. You can see one AGP slot, 5 PCI slots, 4 SATA ports, 2 IDE ports each supporting 2 IDE devices, and one floppy port. 4 DIMM (dual inline memory modules) slots support up to 4GB of DDR SDRAM. Somewhat confusing though are the way in which slots are colored and labeled on board. Reading the directions and logic tells the user that to use place DIMMs in same color slots should enable dual channel. However, in our testing that forced single channel and also we were forced to use PC2100 memory divider. This was strange and certainly could be better illustrated in the user manual to clear up any startup issues that common users may encounter.
The header panel is stacked with 4 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 Gigabit NIC ports, 1 Firewire port, 1 each Serial and Parallel ports, and Sound Card ports including coax and optical digital. Check the product page
for detailed board specifications. Bios:
CoreCell is the area of the bios that tweakers will run to first. Offering ram timing adjustment for speed (e.g. DDR 400,333/266/200), Cas Latency, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, and Command Rate. Users may also alter Vcore to the CPU up to 1.85v, vDIMM up to 2.85v, as well as vAGP up to 1.85v (I recommend no higher than 1.6v though).
I rather enjoyed the straightforward approach MSI takes in making bios options plain. The MSI board offers a standard Award bios with somewhat limited options for ram timings, but to be honest I rather appreciate this. I think overall this is a fairly wise choice as the most pertinent options are included and some lesser known options are excluded to probably save many tech support calls asking why "my board won't post after I changed "xxx" ram timing.
Die hard users are still able to change more advanced settings using a windows based tool written by CodeRed called “A64 Tweaker” local download for V031 available here
Full memory timings options through the A64 tweaking utility
In the BIOS AGP MHz level can be locked at a certain level and should be set to 68 MHz to enable AGP and PCI locks from what I'm told. Other bios areas concerning chipset features are very straightforward and I must say probably one of the easier BIOS’s I have worked with lately to navigate and find options I am looking for.
Onto the system setup and motherboard installation ->