MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum Series Motherboard - HotHardware

MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum Series Motherboard

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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.

Specifications of the MSI 915P Neo2 Platinum
It's Got Everything
CPU
•Supports Intel Pentium 4 Prescott processors in LGA 775 (Socket T) package
•Supports Pentium 4 3XX, 5XX and 7XX Processor or higher speed
•Supports Intel Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology


Chipset
Intel Grantsdale 915P Chipset
•Supports FSB 800MHz
•Support Dual channel DDR2 533+/533/400 memory interface upto 4GB
•Support PCI Express 16X interface


Intel ICH6R Chipset
•Integrated Hi-Speed USB 2.0 controller, 480Mb/sec, 8 ports
•4 Serial ATA/150 ports support RAID (0,1) and Matrix RAID
•1 channel Ultra ATA 100 bus Master IDE controller
•PCI Master v 2.3, I/O ACPI 2.0 Compliant
•Integrated AHCI controller


FSB
•Support 800+/800MHz

Main Memory
•Supports 4 unbuffered DIMM of 1.8 Volt DDR2 SDRAM
•Supports up to 4GB memory size
•Support Dual Channel DDR2 533/400MHz and up(*DDR2 Memory Modules are not the same as DDR Memory Module, please check with your memory vendor for more information)


Slots
•One PCI Express 16X slot
•Two PCI Express 1X slot
•Three PCI 2.2 32-bit Master PCI Bus slots. (support 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface)


On-Board IDE
One Ultra DMA 66/100 IDE controller integrated in ICH6R
•Supports PIO, Bus Master operation modes
•Can connect up to 2 Ultra ATA drives


Serial ATA 150 controller integrated in ICH6R
•Up to 150MB/s transfer speed
•Can connect up to 4 Serial ATA drives
•Supports ACHI controller with SATA RAID (0,1) and Matrix RAID
•Supports SATA hot plug


VIA 6410 IDE RAID Controller
•Integrate two Ultra DMA 66/100/133 IDE controllers
•Support RAID (0,1 and 0+1)
•Connect upto 4 Ultra ATA 133 devices
On-Board Peripherals
•1 floppy port supports 1 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes•1 Serial port (COM A)
•1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
•8 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4/** Front x 4)(** Front USB ports are supported by pin-out)
•1 Line-In/Line-Out/Mic-In/RS Out/CS Out/SPDIF Out-Optica/Coaxial Audio port
•2 PS/2 connectors
•1 LAN RJ45 connector
•1 IEEE 1394


Audio
8 Channel Azalia controller integrated in Intel ICH6R Chipset
•8-channel audio codec Realtek ALC861
•Compliance with Azalia 1.X spec
•Support Multi-Streaming function
•Support Universal Audio Jack (only Front Audio Jack)


LAN
Broadcom DBM5751 PCI-Express Gb LAN Controller
•PCI Express bus Spec 1.a compliant
•PCI Express 1X interface with 2.5Gb/s bandwidth
•10/100/1000 IEEE 802.3 compliant


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.


Dimensions
30.5cm(L) x 24.5cm(W) ATX Form Factor

Mounting
9 mounting holes

1-User's Guide
1-Quick Guide
1-Setup CD
1-RAID Drivers Floppy
1-CPU Mounting Tool
1-I/O Shield
1-Rounded Floppy Cable
1-Rounded IDE Cable
2-SATA Cables
2-SATA Power Adapters
1-D-Bracket 2
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.

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