Not wanting to be outdone by ASUS and Gigabyte, MSI recently launched a series of motherboards based on Intelís new P45 chipset. Succeeding the P35, the P45 chipset adds a few new tricks. A redesigned memory controller take better advantage of processors with 1333MHz front-side bus speeds, for example, and second generation PCI Express connectivity and a more balanced approach to CrossFire configurations means itís a better gaming platform. And, for Łber-geek appreciation, Intel has managed to shrink the whole thing down on a 65nm fabrication process.
MSIís latest P45 series motherboards are equipped with server-class DrMOS which provides high power efficiency, more stable overclocking and lower temperatures. All the MSI motherboards have a zero noise solution thanks to a new Circu-Pipe, Heatpipe or Heatsink, and come with three key features; GreenPower for power saving energy; XpressCool for zero noise and effective heat dissipation; and RapidBoost for high computing performance. According to MSI, a fully-loaded system with DrMOS drops the surface temperature by 16 degrees, a boon for both users and the environment.
Based on the ATX form factor, the P45 Neo3 (£96.11
) is geared for mid-range computing and supports Intelís Core 2 Extreme/Quad/Duo and 45nm Penryn CPUs. It also supports a FSB up to 1600MHz and DDR2 1200MHz memory. Unfortunately, cutting-edge DDR3 memory isnít compatible, but at least youíll save some cash on memory prices. Thereís 8.1-channel audio onboard too (Realtek ALC888 chipset), in addition to PCI Express 2.0 x16.
The motherboard is equipped with MSIís unique Circu-Pipe 2 or Circu-Pipe Liquid cooling solution, which effectively reduces the high temperature from the chipset and provides a total thermal solution for your whole system. Circu-Pipe 2 is a new generation of thermal cooling heat-pipe technology. With the copper blades design, Circu-Pipe 2 can increase the thermal efficiency. Indeed, MSI claims the Circu-Pipe is able to maintain the temperature of the north bridge chip at 36 degrees, which resolves the issue of reaching high temperatures during high-computing load.
MSIís software application, GreenPower Center, lets you take control of your power configuration. Whereas systems without GreenPower Center may increase the system fan speed to lower down the temperature when any heat is detected, the P45 Neo3 automatically takes action when any increase in power usage is measured by the software - before the heat is generated! This results in more efficient power usage and a reduction of acoustic noise. Besides this you can dynamically manage or fine-tune the voltage values of the CPU, memory AND chipset.
Four unbuffered DIMMs of 1.8-Volt DDR2 667/800/1066MHz SDRAM are supported up to 16GB, and thereís one PCI Express x16 slot (PCI Express Bus SPEC V2.0 compliant) and one PCI Express x1 slot (PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant). Other niceties include four 32-bit v2.3 master PCI bus slots, Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek 8111C chipset), one Ultra DMA 66/100/133 IDE controller (can connect up to two Ultra ATA drives), and a SATA2 controller that offers data transfer speeds up to 3Gb/s. Thereís also a controller for SATA RAID 0/1/5/10.
Internal I/O connectors comprise: ATX 24-pin power connector; 4-pin ATX 12V power connector; CPU/system FAN connectors; CD-in connector; front panel audio connector; front panel connector; chassis intrusion connector; four USB 2.0 connectors; floppy disk drive connector; eight SATA2 connectors; ATA133 connector; SPDIF-out connector; clear CMOS Jumper; two HW-OC FSB jumpers; and TPM module connector. When it comes to hooking stuff up at the back of your new machine there are PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse, parallel and serial ports, four USB 2.0 ports, six audio jacks, RJ45 LAN jack, and a single FireWire 400 port.
MSIís P45 Neo3 is a good value motherboard if youíre looking to go green. Itís not suited to high-end gamers though, due to its lack of nVidia SLI support, and thereís no WLAN or Bluetooth chipsets. Some may also need a Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) controller. There isnít an onboard speaker for diagnostics, either.
But MSI put many new technologies into its P45 series to improve the working of GreenPower, which improve temperatures, overclocking and stability. And with features such as active phase switching, enabling phase switching for the memory and chipset, as well as the PWM, the P45 Neo3 should cater for demanding users. Nvidiaís Łber-high-end nForce 790i Ultra SLI still rules the roost for ultimate performance, but the P45 Neo3 is a reasonable choice if youíre building a solid all-rounder on a budget. While the motherboard is catered to the budget user, its two-phase power supply for the chipset gives it better overclockability compared to the P45 Neo and there are still plenty of storage ports to cater to the enthusiast. 
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This entry was posted on Jul 03, 08 and is filed under Tuning