i875 Motherboard RoundUp MSI, DFI & Chaintech

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i875 Motherboard RoundUp MSI, DFI & Chaintech - Page 2

3-Way i875P "Canterwood" Shoot-Out
MSI, DFI & Chaintech Square Off...

By, Marco Chiappetta
June 18, 2003

        

        

   

The 875P Neo-FIS2R is a well laid out board, with quite a few notable features.  As soon as we laid eyes on the 875P Neo-FIS2R, we immediately thought, "MSI".  It must have been the signature bright red PCB and branded Northbridge cooler that tipped us off!  As a whole, we did not have any major gripes with layout, except for the placement of the 12v power connector, which is mounted between the AGP slot and Northbridge.  Unless you've got an extra long 12v lead coming form your power supply, you'll probably have to drape the cable directly over the CPU.  The ATX power connector is mounted alongside the primary IDE channels and floppy connector, out of the way of any components.  The CPU socket is mounted way up at the "top" of the board, flanked by a eight capacitors along a single edge.  We also like what MSI has done with the VRM (Voltage Regulator Module).  On some of their more recent motherboards, MSI has been mounting heatsinks to the MOSFETs in the VRM.  The MOSFETs in the power circuitry generate a significant amount of heat, so keeping them cool is definitely a good idea.  Something case modders will appreciate is the illuminated, active Northbridge cooler.  The LEDs blink is a repeating pattern that will surely draw some attention.  We also liked seeing the color coded headers located at the lower edge of the board.  They make installing the 875P Neo-FIS2R into a case very easy, without ever having to open the manual.  Right above the headers, the 4 available SATA connectors are visible.  Two of the SATA channels are controlled by the ICH5R.  The other two are powered by a Promise 20378 controller, that also provides a third IDE channel.  If you take a look at the external I/O connectors, you'll see a total of 6 available USB connectors scattered amongst the legacy ports and Gigabit LAN jack.

Specifications & Features of The MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R
MSI's Flagship P4 Board

CPU

  • Supports Socket 478 for Intel® Pentium 4 (Northwood / Prescott) processor

  • Supports up 3.6GHz or higher speed

  • Supports FSB 533/800MHz

Chipset

  • Intel® Canterwood 875P Chipset

  • Supports FSB 533/800 MHz

  • Supports ECC memory

  • Support Single or Dual channel DDR 400*/333/266 memory up to 4GB

  • Support AGP 8x or 4x at 0.8V (AGP 3.0) or 4x at 1.5V (not support 3.3V)

  • Intel® ICH5R Chipset

  • Integrated Hi-Speed USB 2.0 controller, 480Mb/sec, 8 ports

  • 2 Serial ATA/ 150 ports

  • 2 channel Ultra ATA 100 bus Master IDE controller

  • PCI Master v 2.3, I/O APIC

  • Supports both ACPI and legacy APM power management - Serial ATA/150 RAID 0

Main Memory

  • Supports 4 unbuffered DIMM of 2.5 Volt DDR SDRAM

  • Supports ECC memory

  • Supports up to 4GB memory size

  • Supports Single or Dual Channel DDR 400*/333/266 MHz and up (*In order to use DDR 400, FSB 800 CPU is required)

Slots

  • One AGP slot supports 8x/4x at 0.8V (AGP 3.0) or 4x at 1.5V (3.3v is not supported)

  • Five PCI 2.2 32-bit Master PCI Bus slots. (support 3.3v / 5v PCI bus interface)

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.

On-Board IDE

  • Dual Ultra DMA 66/ 100 IDE controllers integrated in ICH5R

  • Supports PIO, Bus Master operation modes

  • Can connect up to 4 Ultra ATA drives

  • Serial ATA/ 150 controller integrated in ICH5R

  • Up to 150MB/s transfer speed

  • Can connect up to 2 Serial ATA drives

  • Supports Serial ATA Raid 0

FSB

  • Support 533/800MHz Intel NetBurst micro-architecture bus.

Serial ATA Interface

  • Promise 20378 controllers 2 Serial ATA ports in 150 MB/s operation mode and 1 ultra DMA port

  • Support Ultra ATA, Serial ATA, Raid 0 or 1, Serial ATA Raid 0 or 1, Ultra/ Serial ATA Raid 0+1

  • Connect up to 2 Serial ATA devices and 2 Ultra ATA 133 devices

Audio

  • 6 Channel software audio codec ADI S/W 5.1 channel audio 1980

  • Compliance with AC97 v2.2 Spec

  • Meet PC2001 audio performance requirement

  • Support SPDIF out via S-Bracket only

LAN

  • Intel® 82547EI (CSA interface)

  • Integrated Fast Ethernet MAC and PHY in one chip

  • Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s

  • Compliance with PCI 2.2

  • Supports ACPI Power Management

On-Board Peripherals

  • 1 floppy port supports 2 FDDs with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes

  • 2 serial ports (COM A + COM B)

  • 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode

  • 8 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 6 / **Front x 2) (**Front USB ports are supported by pin-out)

  • 1 Line-In/Line-Out/Mic-In port

  • 2 PS/2 connectors

  • 1 LAN RJ45 connector

  • 3 IEEE1394 port controlled by VT6306, with up to 400Mbps transfer rate.

Dimension

  • 30.5 cm(L) x 24.4 cm(W) ATX Form Factor

Mounting

  • 9 mounting holes

Accessories

  • D Bracket

  • 2 IEEE1394 Cable

  • S Bracket

  • Round Cable

  • Serial ATA Cables


The BIOS:

        

        

The MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R was equipped with a very complete AMI (American Megatrends Inc.) BIOS, as opposed to the more common Award BIOS found on the vast majority on the motherboards available today.  From within the BIOS, users have the ability to enable or disable virtually all of the on-board components.  Users can also fine tune Memory and AGP settings on the 875P Neo-FIS2R.  There were early reports of memory incompatibilities and overclocking issues in some initial reviews of this board, but when using revision 1.4 of the BIOS, we did not encounter any BIOS related problems during our testing.

        

  

Would be overclockers out there will be happy with what they see within the 875P Neo-FIS2R's BIOS.  MSI is definitely catering to the hardcore enthusiasts with this board.  From within the "Frequency / Voltage Control" section of the BIOS, users can choose the speed at which they want to run their memory and can raise the FSB to as high as 500MHz, in 1MHz increments!  VCore, DDR (memory) and AGP voltages can all be altered from this section as well.  Users can raise their processor's core voltage up to 1.95v, DDR voltages range from 2.5v to a whopping 3.3v and the AGP voltage can be set to anything between 1.5v and 2.1v, in .1v increments.  Overall the 875P Neo-FIS2R's BIOS is very "overclocker friendly".  Speaking of overclocking...

Overclocking: MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R
A Ton of Options

STOCK CPU SPEED

CPU OVERCLOCKED TO
3.48GHZ (15 X 231MHZ)

CPU OVERCLOCKED TO
3.48GHZ (15 X 231MHZ)

When we overclocked the three boards in this round-up, our intentions were to find the maximum stable CPU and FSB speeds, with all of the test systems configured with the same settings and hardware.  We bumped the CPU core voltage up to 1.65v, had the memory speeds determined by the SPD and locked the AGP / PCI clock speeds to 66MHz / 33MHz..  We then raised the FSB from within the BIOS until we hit the point where the test systems were no longer stable.  The speeds reported here were the maximum clock speeds we could hit with each board, while still being able to run our benchmarking suite.  The MSI 875P Neo-FIS2R performed very well.  We were able to take our particular 3.0GHz CPU all the way up to 3.48GHz (15 x 231MHz FSB) on the 875P Neo-FIS2R, which equates to a 15.5% increase in clock speed!  We should also mention that overclocking with the 875P Neo-FIS2R can be done via their proprietary "CoreCell" software.  MSI's "CoreCell" software gives users the ability to monitor and tweak voltages, fan speeds and the FSB speed from a single interface within Windows.  We prefer to overclock our systems "the old fashioned" way, however.

Next Up, DFI's "LANPARTY" Pro875


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