MSI K9A2 Platinum AMD 790FX Motherboard

Introduction and Specifications

In mid-Q4 2007, AMD released their 790FX, 790X and 770 chipsets, the final pieces required to complete their Spider platform.  As the backbone of the new platform, the 700 series chipsets were designed with new feature sets to take full advantage of the Phenom processor's capabilities.  With up to 42 PCI Express lanes, support for four-way graphics, and lower power consumption then previous chipsets, AMD delivered a competitive new chipset to back their new CPUs and graphics cards.

In November, we took a detailed look at the Spider platform coupled with a Phenom processor to see how it compared to its peers.  In the end, Intel still had a leg up on AMD in terms of overall performance, but the new platform was impressive.

Today, we're going to take a look at the latest 790FX based motherboard to hit our test bench, namely, the MSI K9A2 Platinum Motherboard.  Built around AMD's 790FX chipset, the K9A2 Platinum brings four-way CrossFire capability, support for HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0 while MSI adds additional customizations to help raise the board to "Platinum" status.  Whether looking to upgrade the foundation of your current Athlon based system or want to go all out for the full Spider experience, MSI thinks it has a solid candidate for your consideration.  Let's find if they're correct in their assumption, shall we?

MSI K9A2 Platinum 790FX Motherboard
Specifications and Features

Supports 64-bit AMD® Phenom FX / Phenom processor (Socket AM2+)
Supports Phenom FX CPU: FX-82
Supports Phenom CPU: 9700, 9600, 9500 & 8000 Series
Supports 64-bit AMD® Athlon 64FX / Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 processor (Socket AM2)
Supports Athlon 64 CPU: 3500+, 3800+
Supports Athlon 64FX CPU: FX-62
Supports Athlon 64 X2 CPU: 3800+, 4000+, 4200, 4400+, 4600+, 4800+, 5000+, 5200+, 5400+, 6000+, 6400+
AMD 790FX (AMD RD790) Chipset
HyperTransport connection to AMD Phenom/Athlon processor
HyperTransport supporting speed up to 2.6GHz (5200mt/s)
Supports 4 PCI-E x 16, & 1 PCI-E X 1
ATI SB600 Chipset
Supports SATAII controllers for four drives
Supports single channel Ultra DMA 66/100/133 master mode EIDE controller
ACPI & PC2001 compliant enhanced power managment
Supports Hi-Speed (USB2.0) controller 480 mbsec transfer rate up to 10 ports
Main Memory    
Supports 4 240-pin DDR2 SDRAMs up to 8GB memory size
Supports Dual Channel DDR2 800/1066 DDR2 SDRAM
Supports 1.8v DDR2 SDRAM DIMM
Due to the High Performance Memory design, motherboards or system configurations may or may not operate smoothly at the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) standard settings (BIOS Default on the motherboard) such as DDR2 voltage, memory speeds and memory timing. Please confirm and adjust your memory setting in the BIOS accordingly for better system stability.
Example: Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 PC-6400 operates at 2.0V, 4-4-4-12.
For more information about specification of high performance memory modules, please check with your Memory Manufactures for more details.
On-Board IDE/SATA 
An IDE controller on the ATI SB600 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA133/100/66 operation modes.
Can connect up to 2 IDE devices
SB600 supports 4 SATA II ports (SATA1-4). Transfer rate is up to 300MB/s.
Supports up to 4 SATA
RAID 0 or 1, 0+1 is supported
RAID function` work w/ SATA/SATAII HDDs

Promise T3 controller supports 2 SATAII (SATA5/6)(SAS ready) & 2eSATA ports
RAID 0, 1, or 0+1 is supported
RAID function work with SATA/eSATA HDDs


Four PCI Express X16 slots , support ATI CrossFire Technology (PCI Express Bus Specification v2.0 compliant)
{Slot configurations: Dual CrossFire (16X+16X), Triple CrossFire (16X+8X+8X), Quad CrossFire (8X+8X+8X+8X)}
One PCI Express X1 slot
Two 32-bit PCI slots (3.3v/5v PCI Bus Master slots)


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.
Supports boot from LAN, USB Device 1.1 & 2.0 and SATA HDD
8 Channel software audio codec Realtek ALC888
Compliance with Azalia v1.0 spec.
Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing
Realtek® 8111B LAN chip
Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
Compliance with PCI-Express v1.0a
VIA VT6308P controller
Support up to 2 IEEE 1394 ports (rear x 1 / front x 1)
Transfer rate up to 400 mbps.
On-Board Peripherals
1 floppy port supports 1 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes
1 serial port (supported by pin-out)
1 audio jack (5-in-1), coaxial/fibre SPDIF out
10 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / Front x 6)
1 RJ45 LAN jack
2 eSATA ports
2 IEEE 1394 a connectors (Rear x 1/ Front x 1)
1 CD-in pinheader
12 in (L) x 9.75 in(W) ATX Form Factor
9 mounting holes

MSI complements the K9A2 Platinum with a solid collection of extra components to help take full advantage of the mainboard's features.  The package include the customary Quick Installation Guide, User's Manual, and a poster sized Quick Guide for a detailed overview of the motherboard main components and layout.  There is also a Drivers/Setup CD that includes all necessary drivers needed for proper functionality.  The package included four SATA cables, an 80-Pin IDE cable and a single Floppy cable.  MSI provided two Molex to SATA power adapters, a two-port USB bracket and a single-port FireWire bracket as well.  Lastly, a custom I/O shield is provided (not pictured).


An item that we are seeing more and more of lately are adapters for connecting a case's Power and Reset Switches, and Power and HDD LEDs, as well as custom plugs for the board's additioanl USB, Front Panel Audio, and FireWire headers.  These make it much simpler to connect the individual plugs to an adapter outside the case, then plug the whole assembly into the mainboard in a single motion.  Rounding out the package are two CrossFire bridge connectors.

Tags:  AMD, MSI, ATI, Motherboard, MS, 790FX, fx, board, platinum, PLA, AR, AM, K

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