As Intel's Alderwood and Grantsdale chipsets have brought a whole new platform of technology to the P4, OEMs are now in full swing, bringing their own flavors to the mix. With support for Intel's new LGA775 processors, DDR and DDR2 and PCI-Express, the playing field has certainly changed. Granted, while upgrading will require a larger investment, the results can be worth it in the end, especially if you are migrating from a generation or two behind this current Intel architecture.
Recently, we've seen a number of offerings come to market based on the 915G/P chipset. While each company offers its own combination of features, only a few have truly stood out from the rest. The latest motherboard we've received from MSI has a solid chance to be that one board that stands above others in its class. The MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum series motherboard brings the best the Intel 915P chipset has to offer and brings a few enhancements to the table to sweeten the deal. It's obvious that MSI has been hard at work with this board, with the aim clearly being a show stopper type product. All we can say is when the board arrived, it got our attention and wouldn't let go. Let's get started by getting aquainted with what the MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum has under the hood.
1-RAID Drivers Floppy
1-CPU Mounting Tool
1-Rounded Floppy Cable
1-Rounded IDE Cable
2-SATA Power Adapters
1-IEEE 1394 Bracket
MSI provided an exceptionally well outfitted retail bundle to compliment the 915P Neo2 Platinum. They covered the gamut from thorough documentation, to all of the extra hardware and cables needed for a smooth setup. They provided a nifty plastic CPU mounting tool to help prevent less experienced users from installing the new LGA775 packaged Pentium 4s incorrectly. D-Brackets were also provided to extend the USB and IEEE 1394 via on-board headers. A full complement of rounded IDE, Floppy and SATA cabling was included to support a of myriad drive combinations as well. One thing we immediately noticed was the SATA cables included in the bundle were both narrower and thinner than typical SATA cables. Note the red cables from a recent ASUS board we reviewed and then the orange cables provided by MSI. Some may think this is a small thing, but when it comes to cabling, less is always more in our opinion. Lastly, MSI rounds out the package with a complete Setup CD with MSI's LiveUpdate, Core Center overclocking utility and other programs like Live Update, Live BIOS, Trend PC-Cillin 2004 and XTeq XSetup that expand on the board's robust features.
As we can see, MSI packed the 915P Neo2 Platinum's retail packaging with all the essentials needed to take full advantage of the board's feature set. Next, we'll take a closer inspection of the board itself and spotlight some of its salient points.