Socket 939 Motherboard Roundup: ABIT, MSI, Gigabyte

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MSI K8T Neo2-FIR: Bundle & Specifications

The K8T Neo2-FIR has a bit of a history behind it.  When AMD launches a new processor, it generally ships a kit to the press and other anaysts designed to showcase its new product in the best light.  When the first Socket 939 processors, the Athlon 64 FX-53 and 3800+, arrived in the HotHardware labs, they were accompanied by a prerelease version of the K8T Neo2.  For AMD to choose this board to showcase its new processors, the company must have really liked something about it.  That prerelease board seemed really nice, so we were eager to see what the retail version had to offer, as motherboards tend to only get better with a little age...


Specifications Of t=The MSI K8T Neo2-FIR
There's A Reason AMD Likes This Board
_Supports 64-bit AMD K8 Athlon 64/Athlon 64 FX Processor (Socket 939)
_Supports 64-bit AMD K8 Athlon 64 3500+ and higher CPU
_Supports 64-bit AMD K8 Athlon 64 FX processor FX-53 and up

_VIA K8T800 Pro Chipset
_HyperTransport connection to AMD K8 Athlon 64/Athlon 64 FX processor
8 or 16 bit control / address data transfer both directions
_1000/800/600/400/200MHz "Double Data Rate" operation both directions
_AGP v3.0 compliant with 8X transfer mode

VIA VT8237 Chipset
_Ultra DMA 66/100/133 master mode EIDE controller
_Integrated dual channel native Serial ATA/RAID controller that will supply 150MB/s and support RAID 0, RAID 1
_ACPI & PC2001 compliant enhanced power management
_Supports 8 USB 2.0 ports. (Rear x4/ Front x4)

Main Memory
_Supports four 184-pin DDR SDRAMs up to 4GB memory size
_Supports DDR400*/DDR333/DDR266 DDR SDRAM
*Note: PC3200 (DDR400) - 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 DDR voltage, memory speeds and memory timing. Please confirm and adjust your memory setting in the BIOS accordingly for better system stability.

_One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) 1.5V 4x/8x slot
_Five PCI 2.2 32-bit Master PCI Bus slots. (support 3.3v / 5v PCI bus interface)

_30.5 cm(L) x 24.5 cm(W) ATX Form Factor

_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.

Serial ATA/150 controller integrated in VT8237
_Up to 150MB/s transfer speed
_Can connect up to two Serial ATA drives
_Support RAID 0, RAID 1
On-Board IDE
_An IDE controller on the VT8237 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master, and Ultra DMA 66/100/133 operation modes. It can connect 4 Ultra ATA drives.

Promise 20579 Onboard
_Supports ultra ATA, Serial ATA, Ultra ATA RAID 0 or 1, Serial ATA RAID 0 or 1, Ultra/ Serial ATA RAID 0+1
_Connect up to two Serial ATA devices and two Ultra ATA 133 devices

IEEE 1394a
_VIA VT6306 IEEE 1394 controller
_Provides onboard one 6-pin port and one 4-pin port
Transfer rate up to 400Mbps

_8-channel software audio codec Realtek ALC850
_Compliance with AC97' v2.3 Spec
_Meet PC2001 audio performance requirement
_Provide onboard SPDIF out

_Realtek 8110S Dual layout
_Integrated Gigabit Ethernet MAC and PHY transceiver, auto-negotiation operation.
_Supports single-port 10MB/s, 100MB/s, 1000MB/s Base-T application.
_Compliance with PCIv2.2 and LAN on Motherboard (LOM) standard.

On-Board Peripherals
_1 floppy port supports 2 FDDs with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes
_1 serial ports COM1
_1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
_8 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / Front x 4)
_5 audio ports in vertical (Left, Center, Right, Line-in, MIC)
_1 SPDIF out
_2 IEEE 1394 connectors
_1 RJ-45 jack
_1 IrDA connector for SIR/ASKIR/HPSIR

_D Bracket 2
_Serial ATA Power Adapter
_2 x Serial ATA Cables
_Round Cable



The MSI K8T Neo2-FIR shipped with a rather unique bundle.  Along with the board itself, we found three driver and utility CDs, two floppy disks containing drivers for the VIA and Promise RAID controllers, a custom I/O shield, and two user's manuals.  The same D-Bracket that accompanied the K8N Neo2 Platinum was also included with the K8T, in addition to a rounded floppy cable, a rounded 80-wire IDE cable, a single SATA cable, and one Molex-to-SATA power adapter. The last piece of hardware included with the K8T Neo2-FIR was an 802.11g wireless network adapter with an external antenna.  MSI also included a half-height mounting bracket with the card, but we doubt this board will be used in many applications where the smaller bracket will be useful.  We tested the 802.11g adapter with a Linksys WRT54GS and a D-Link DI-624 wireless router and encountered no compatibility or performance issues.  A wired network connection is always preferable, but if that's not an option for you, the K8T Neo2-FIR's included wireless network adatper will come in handy.

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