Now we start to see what MSI has put into the board. The layout is designed around a Micro ATX format.
Located at the top of the board is a 24-pin ATX power supply connector and the FDD connector, well away from the CPU. Below the ATX power connector is a 4-pin CPU voltage connector behind the single IDE port. The DDR-2 memory module slots are located below the FDD connector and just above the CPU section. This is not your typical Micro ATX layout.
The CPU socket is a much better layout then what we saw on the ASUS N4L board. ASUS required a special heatsink and fan combo that was a proprietary mount. MSI uses the same Socket 478 mounting mechanism that Pentium 4 processors in typical Socket 478 based motherboards use - so it's simple to replace the heatsink with any Socket 478 cooler on the market.
Voltage is supplied to the CPU through a 3 phase voltage regulation system. While 2 phases is only needed for such an energy efficient core, it's nice to see the extra phase added to provide a cooler mosfet profile. After all, the less heat generated in a Micro ATX case the better.
Now we take a look at the rear I/O panel - and I must say it is a very clean and efficient panel. You have your standard two PS2 ports for keyboard and mouse. Next you have a 15-pin CRT port and a DVI-I port for your monitors - with the onboard graphics supporting Dual Monitors, there nothing holding you back. Next up is a single RCA and S-Video port, which are used to connect the PC to a TV for video out functions in media centre environments. Beside that is a single Firewire-400 port. Next are two RJ-45 ports for Dual Gigabit LAN, which is another requirement of the Intel VIIV platform. Next to this is a 4 port USB stack and lastly there is Analogue audio and one digital optical audio out port.
When using the Micro ATX layout you get a single PCI Express x16 slot for a discrete graphics cards. Also in the PCI Express line you get a single PCI Express x4 slot along with two PCI slots. You can see at the bottom of the board there is a gold finger connector. This is where the extra two PCI slots expansion board is plugged in. When using this you get a total of four PCI slots, which all in all makes the expansion possibilities for this motherboard quite impressive considering it is Micro ATX based.
The MSI 945GT Speedster supplied two PCI Express x1 Intel Tacoma Network controllers. These chips support up to 1000Mbps throughput.
Lastly we have the PCI based VIA VT6307 Firewire controller.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications]
- Page 3 [Inside The Box]
- Page 4 [The Motherboard]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Overclocking]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Test System Setup and SiSoft Sandra]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - PCMark05]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Media Encoding]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - 3DMark05]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - 3DMark06]
- Page 11 [Benchmarks - Doom 3]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - Quake 4]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - Far Cry]
- Page 15 [Final Thoughts]
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