MSI K9A Platinum ATI CrossFire XPress 3200 for AM2

Article Index

Design And Layout


Design and Layout
The MSI K9A Platinum board certainly has a sleek, no-frills enthusiast appeal to it, featuring an all-black PCB and minimal eye-catching extras. No fancy chipset cooling solutions, no bright colored LED's, just a clean, organized layout based on a standard ATX form factor design.

The board supports Socket-AM2 based Athlon64, Athlon64 X2, Athlon64 FX, and Sempron processors, and fully supports AMD's Energy Efficient (EE) models as well. The board supports processors at 1000 MHz HyperTransport speed natively, and can support much higher HT speeds through overclocking. The VRM's which are used to provide power to the processor are cooled by a series of aluminum alloy heatsinks, which are conveniently located in order to pick up leftover airflow between the CPU cooler and the case's fan exhaust slot.

The board features a standard Socket-AM2 heatsink mounting system, which is secured through four screws on the motherboard. The CPU socket positioning is fine in our eyes, although MSI unfortunately decided to route the required +12V ATX secondary power connector to an odd spot near the CPU socket, which may interrupt airflow patterns from the processor to the outside of the chassis. The primary power connector is located near the edge of the motherboard, where one would expect. This connector is also uncomfortably close to the Ultra ATA/100 connector, which makes it difficult to plug in devices. 

The processor and motherboard support dual-channel DDR2-800 memory through four 240-pin DDR2 sockets, which are implemented with orange and lime green connectors. The board supports up to 8 GB of memory (up to 2 GB capacity per slot), and supports peak memory bandwidth levels of 12.8 GB/s when two or more memory modules are installed. DDR2-667, 533, and 400 modules are also supported if you have these older modules and want to use them in this new platform. For setting up a dual-channel configuration, you'll want to use at least one stick in the orange slots, and one stick in the green slots.

The board's dual PCI Express x16 slots are spaced far enough apart so that if dual graphics cards are used, each will receive ample airflow and room. As we've noted before, this chipset provides each PCIe x16 slot with a full 16 PCI Express lanes, so there is no lane speed degradation when using multiple graphics cards. The motherboard's Southbridge chipset and Serial ATA ports are positioned in such a way that they will not interfere with a dual graphics card setup, even with dual-slot cards like the Radeon X1900 XT series. If you are using multiple graphics card, it's recommended that you make use of the secondary 4-pin Molex power connector located near the primary (top) PCI express x16 slot in order to give the board a little extra juice where it needs it. The board also features two PCI Express x1 slots and two 32-bit PCI slots. 

Related content