MSI K9A Platinum ATI CrossFire XPress 3200 for AM2

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Conclusion

 

Our Conclusion
While ATI is quicker on the draw this time around, their Socket-AM2 chipset is still hitting the market at least a couple of months behind nVidia's. While writing, ATI Radeon Xpress 3200 chipset-based motherboards for Socket-AM2 are still nowhere to be found, and our test board still had some quirky issues which should not be present in a production-class motherboard. By our estimation, it will take at least a few more weeks for BIOS revisions to be finalized and for these motherboards to get on the market. Unfortunately, by that time, Intel's Core 2 Duo processor should be more widely available which will steal a lot of attention away from AMD's Socket-AM2 platform. One can only hope that with ATI's new partnership with AMD that their chipset solutions will be able to make it to market far quicker than they do today.

Relatively little has changed with the Radeon XPress 3200 Crossfire Northbridge, however ATI's new SB600 Southbridge does finally put an end to ATI's Southbridge performance issues, delivering solid Serial ATA-II/300 and USB 2.0 performance which its predecessor could not. However, the Southbridge still doesn't quite match up to nVidia's latest offerings, which offer more Serial ATA ports, RAID-5 support, and native Gigabit Ethernet. Nevertheless, for the time being, Southbridge issues should no longer be a stumbling point for those looking to purchase an ATI based platform, as third party controller chips can easily make up what ATI left behind.

Overall, MSI's K9A Platform is a high-class enthusiast platform, capable of delivering solid performance. The board supports AMD's latest high-end dual-core processors, up to 8 GB of DDR2 memory, dual PCI Express graphics with Crossfire support, and quad Serial ATA-II/300 ports with RAID, not a bad platform to build a high-end gaming system off of. Unfortunately, it's got some stiff competition in the form of nVidia's nForce 570 and 590 series chipset motherboards, which are already starting to drop in price. Unfortunately, we don't know what MSRPs for this platform will be quite yet, but we feel that MSI will need to position the price of this board between nVidia's 570 SLI and 590 SLI in order to get any kind of market penetration. We feel that once the BIOS issues get ironed out, this will be a great platform for those wanting to set up a Radeon X1900/X1950 series Crossfire setup. It's almost there, but not quite yet.

  • Low Power Consumption, Low Heat
  • Passive Cooling, Zero Noise
  • Overclockable
  • Improved SATA / USB Performance Over Socket-939 Variants
  • No Major Standout Feature Compared to nVidia
  • Availability Issues
  • Lacks RAID-5, Native Gigabit LAN

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