MSI PT880 Testing Motherboard
Unfortunately due to VIA's lack of test samples for media these days, we weren't able to obtain a PT880 reference motherboard. Instead we are using the MSI PT880 as our reference PT880 sample. This is also recommended from VIA so it seems they endorse the results the MSI product produces. While this isn't a review of the motherboard itself, we will show the features that most of the VIA PT880 motherboards should support.
Here we see the packaging MSI ships the motherboards in. This box is identical in design to the Intel 865PE Neo we have tested before but with the PT880 Neo logo printed on it, of course.
Within you get a hefty bundle including Serial ATA cables, IDE cables and your user manuals.
Here we see the layout of the motherboard itself. MSI bases it on a similar design to the reference PT880 which could be a reason why VIA recommend them highly for media testing. MSI however uses a red PCB and colour codes its peripheral connectors including the Channel A and Channel B DDR DIMM sockets.
Now we get to see the heart and soul. The PT880 chipset is housed under a passive Northbridge heatsink. VIA has used a mirror finish core that transfers heat from the chipset die to the heatsink much more efficiently, requiring only passive cooling rather than active for the most part.
The Southbridge uses the same mirror finish as the Northbridge, though no cooling aids are added to the Southbridge, simply because it isn't needed. The Southbridge uses the VIA V-Link system at 533MB/s to allow full speed for the PCI bus along with the Serial ATA ports and other devices.
VIA hasn't followed Intel's lead with a dedicated bus for a Gigabit Ethernet controller but rather use the PCI bus, simply because Gigabit isn't as common in the home as it is in high level servers and office environments. For this MSI has used the Realtek RTL8110S-32 Gigabit Ethernet controller chip tied directly into the PCI bus. This means if you use Gigabit Ethernet, the PCI bus will be totally overwhelmed with Ethernet Data.
Since Firewire isn't an included feature of the North or Southbridge's, the VIA VT6307 two port Firewire chip is included for Firewire compatibility.
Now we've finished taking a look at the chipset and testing motherboard, let's move onto the benchmarks and see what we have on our hands as far as performance goes!
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