MSI K9A2 Platinum AMD 790FX Motherboard - HotHardware

MSI K9A2 Platinum AMD 790FX Motherboard

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In mid-Q4 2007, AMD released their 790FX, 790X and 770 chipsets, the final pieces required to complete their Spider platform.  As the backbone of the new platform, the 700 series chipsets were designed with new feature sets to take full advantage of the Phenom processor's capabilities.  With up to 42 PCI Express lanes, support for four-way graphics, and lower power consumption then previous chipsets, AMD delivered a competitive new chipset to back their new CPUs and graphics cards.

In November, we took a detailed look at the Spider platform coupled with a Phenom processor to see how it compared to its peers.  In the end, Intel still had a leg up on AMD in terms of overall performance, but the new platform was impressive.

Today, we're going to take a look at the latest 790FX based motherboard to hit our test bench, namely, the MSI K9A2 Platinum Motherboard.  Built around AMD's 790FX chipset, the K9A2 Platinum brings four-way CrossFire capability, support for HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0 while MSI adds additional customizations to help raise the board to "Platinum" status.  Whether looking to upgrade the foundation of your current Athlon based system or want to go all out for the full Spider experience, MSI thinks it has a solid candidate for your consideration.  Let's find if they're correct in their assumption, shall we?



MSI K9A2 Platinum 790FX Motherboard
Specifications and Features

CPU
Supports 64-bit AMD® Phenom FX / Phenom processor (Socket AM2+)
Supports Phenom FX CPU: FX-82
Supports Phenom CPU: 9700, 9600, 9500 & 8000 Series
Supports 64-bit AMD® Athlon 64FX / Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 processor (Socket AM2)
Supports Athlon 64 CPU: 3500+, 3800+
Supports Athlon 64FX CPU: FX-62
Supports Athlon 64 X2 CPU: 3800+, 4000+, 4200, 4400+, 4600+, 4800+, 5000+, 5200+, 5400+, 6000+, 6400+
      
Chipset
AMD 790FX (AMD RD790) Chipset
HyperTransport connection to AMD Phenom/Athlon processor
HyperTransport supporting speed up to 2.6GHz (5200mt/s)
Supports 4 PCI-E x 16, & 1 PCI-E X 1
      
ATI SB600 Chipset
Supports SATAII controllers for four drives
Supports single channel Ultra DMA 66/100/133 master mode EIDE controller
ACPI & PC2001 compliant enhanced power managment
Supports Hi-Speed (USB2.0) controller 480 mbsec transfer rate up to 10 ports
      
Main Memory    
Supports 4 240-pin DDR2 SDRAMs up to 8GB memory size
Supports Dual Channel DDR2 800/1066 DDR2 SDRAM
Supports 1.8v DDR2 SDRAM DIMM
Due to the High Performance Memory design, motherboards or system configurations may or may not operate smoothly at the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) standard settings (BIOS Default on the motherboard) such as DDR2 voltage, memory speeds and memory timing. Please confirm and adjust your memory setting in the BIOS accordingly for better system stability.
Example: Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 PC-6400 operates at 2.0V, 4-4-4-12.
For more information about specification of high performance memory modules, please check with your Memory Manufactures for more details.
      
On-Board IDE/SATA 
An IDE controller on the ATI SB600 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA133/100/66 operation modes.
Can connect up to 2 IDE devices
SB600 supports 4 SATA II ports (SATA1-4). Transfer rate is up to 300MB/s.
Supports up to 4 SATA
RAID 0 or 1, 0+1 is supported
RAID function` work w/ SATA/SATAII HDDs


Promise T3 controller supports 2 SATAII (SATA5/6)(SAS ready) & 2eSATA ports
RAID 0, 1, or 0+1 is supported
RAID function work with SATA/eSATA HDDs


Slots

Four PCI Express X16 slots , support ATI CrossFire Technology (PCI Express Bus Specification v2.0 compliant)
{Slot configurations: Dual CrossFire (16X+16X), Triple CrossFire (16X+8X+8X), Quad CrossFire (8X+8X+8X+8X)}
One PCI Express X1 slot
Two 32-bit PCI slots (3.3v/5v PCI Bus Master slots)


BIOS

The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface (DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
Supports boot from LAN, USB Device 1.1 & 2.0 and SATA HDD
      
Audio
8 Channel software audio codec Realtek ALC888
Compliance with Azalia v1.0 spec.
Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
      
LAN
Realtek® 8111B LAN chip
Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
Compliance with PCI-Express v1.0a
      
IEEE1394
VIA VT6308P controller
Support up to 2 IEEE 1394 ports (rear x 1 / front x 1)
Transfer rate up to 400 mbps.
      
On-Board Peripherals
1 floppy port supports 1 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes
1 serial port (supported by pin-out)
1 audio jack (5-in-1), coaxial/fibre SPDIF out
10 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / Front x 6)
1 RJ45 LAN jack
2 eSATA ports
2 IEEE 1394 a connectors (Rear x 1/ Front x 1)
1 CD-in pinheader
      
Dimension
12 in (L) x 9.75 in(W) ATX Form Factor
      
Mounting
9 mounting holes


MSI complements the K9A2 Platinum with a solid collection of extra components to help take full advantage of the mainboard's features.  The package include the customary Quick Installation Guide, User's Manual, and a poster sized Quick Guide for a detailed overview of the motherboard main components and layout.  There is also a Drivers/Setup CD that includes all necessary drivers needed for proper functionality.  The package included four SATA cables, an 80-Pin IDE cable and a single Floppy cable.  MSI provided two Molex to SATA power adapters, a two-port USB bracket and a single-port FireWire bracket as well.  Lastly, a custom I/O shield is provided (not pictured).
 

     

 
An item that we are seeing more and more of lately are adapters for connecting a case's Power and Reset Switches, and Power and HDD LEDs, as well as custom plugs for the board's additioanl USB, Front Panel Audio, and FireWire headers.  These make it much simpler to connect the individual plugs to an adapter outside the case, then plug the whole assembly into the mainboard in a single motion.  Rounding out the package are two CrossFire bridge connectors.

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I own this board . you said it was a see saw battle. i beg to differ. i bought this board almost 3 months ago. This board has better overclocking . you wouldnt know that because you tested two crapy cpus at 2.6 ghz. with this board overclocked 100 more mhz then my last board which was only 3 months old. i was able to hit a perfect 3.5 ghz on my athlon 6400 and my other 6000 cpu. in fact. i put the cpu multy to 14 and raised to FSB. my other mobo hit 3.4 ghz and 970 mhz on ram. while this new mobo hit 3.5 and a 1000 mhz even on ddr2 ram* Zalman 9700 led air cooler*. prob higher but i think my cheap gskill was maxed at 1000. this board his a higher peak then the other board. great review just though id add what i found while using this board.( sorryfor the typos. im tring to get this done fastas my internet is out till monday , im outsiding borrowing a signal. even in FL is cold as amofo in Feb.) This is a great Mobo and the spacing of the 4 pciE 2.0 slots are perfect. u can use 4 double slot cards on this mobo . most mobo put the other 2 pcie slots close together making it where u can only use 3 pcie slots becuase the 4th is block by the 3rd. gota go. Great review. over clock this a bit using high end cpus not crap and see what happens. youll think more of this mobo. good day. oh and one more thing. im using apowercolor 3850 512 . using the new overclocked settings on this mobo i am able to play COD4 with everything maxed without a single hitch. at 3.4 ghz and 970 ram itgs stil a slight bit choppy.  to me that made all the differnce

 

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I've bought this Mobo right nowand thinking about chipset pipe cooling and basic physics. Do you thing it is important how the board is mounted, horizontally or vertically. My understanding is the hottest part (SB ?) of piping should be lower than coolest part (cooler close to CPU?).

I didn!t find any comments till now, is there anybody who knows physics better than me?

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I have this mobo with a phenom quad core, and just use a 2 GN video card and a big HDD. And an soundblaster FX card, I can only use 2 RAM slots with 2 GB Patriot chips, But I want to use my other 2 for 8 gb ram. So now I have a 2 TB HDD, and a full win 7 64 bit. The driver cds only came with xp and vista, so I hope the vista drivers will work. I am having a hard time installing the 2 TB HDD and the win 7 64 bit. I am trying using only 2 of the 2 gb ram ships but when I boot the new hdd to the win 7 64 bit dvd, it just keeps saying insert the boot program and hit a button, over and over. I went to the biod and loaded the default settings, and set it to pick up the dvd or and other device to boot from. I dont get it. When I build the pc, it was simple..I installed xp, the vista upgrade, and the win 7 32 bit upgrade. Then the mobo drivers, vid and sound drivers. it was simple. Why is it not simple putting in a new hdd and a full fersion of win 7 64? It should act the same as when I first built it. I want to finally use 8 gb RAM.. I have 4 nice 2 GB patriot RAM chips that have heat fins on them. I dont seem to know how to do it anymore, Oh, and the heatsink I ised that fit in the tight spot was the butterfly one, with a red led light on it. I have a nice glass side, untra case... and It of course wouldnt fir the tube for fresh aur frim the glass side, but a nice little led lit fan screwed right is. The power supply is even clear and can be chanced to 3 different colors. But anyway, I need to know how to install this new 2 terabite hard drive, and win 7 64 bit on it. Then I will add the other 2 two GB RAM cards.I need the order to do it. I even have bothe hard drives hooked up now but cannot access the new hdd, Is there any step by step instructions to put in a new hard drive, with a new version on win 7 64 bit? I really need to know from setting the bios, down to the drivers. and if I need to put a jumper on the hdd. The 6 sata poers are confusing because 4 are purple and 2 are red. why the different color sata ports? which ones for the hdd and which for the dvd? I am totally confused right now. If you have a link or can copy and past step by step for replacing the hddd and a new instalatio of win 7 64 bit full version, You are a genious and it would reall help me. Thanks in advance.

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also, I would like to learn how tho overclock it, but not so much that it is in danger. I have 2 fans on the power supply, the buf fan on the heat sink that id sideways to fit.. it;s a huge butterfly heatsink, the one on the glass side, and there is a filtered fan in the front bottom.Tye video card even has a fan in it.Then I have a large output fan on the back. so it is plenty cool. The Patriot RAM cards even have heat sink fans on them.

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I just need step by step on installind the new 2 TB HDD and the new win 7 64 bit op system, and what order to do things like the drivers for the video and sound... but mostly the mobo driverss.

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I think if I can get the hdd in and the win 7 64 installed, I can get the 64 bit drivers off the net...I hope. But I love this motherboard. I used to have 2 1 gb video cards on it in spider mode... but when I upgraded to win 7 from vista, they didnt work so I had to ger a new vid card, and it was so fat it takes 2 soaces. AMD radeon 4850.I did have 2 HD 3870's. I am so confused right now.

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JHightower why don't you  edit your posts intead of double / multi posting O_o

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