Once again, when it comes to the AMD motherboard market, we are left with only one answer to our motherboard selection problem: features.  Performance is really no longer a factor when it comes to AMD-based motherboards.  As broad and as dangerous a statement as that may be, in nearly all cases that we have seen in our various testing here at PC Perspective, this has turned out to be the case.  In implementing the memory controller on-board with the processor, AMD has stolen away the chipset designers tool set in easily finding a way to differentiate themselves.  It’s almost as if these companies are redifining their role in the industry and trying to find their new place in it.  Both NVIDIA and VIA are attmpting to do this with their AMD chipsets as is each individual motherboard manufacturer. 

NVIDIA had to play a little catch up on this front, but they have done so very well.  They are now including 4 SATA channels on their NF3 Ultra chipset as well as the ability to run RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 on them in cooperation with the two IDE channels.  The implementation of a unique Gigabit LAN solution is also a step in the right direction, even though it would seem more motherboard manufacturers are leaving it off than on.  The NVIDIA overclocking utility is something that I personally find very useful, being able to adjust so many bios settings right in your Windows desktop, but again few motherboard manufacturers are implementing the necessary bios hooks to take advantage of this NVIDIA software.  Perhaps it is for fear that they will lose their edge against other board manufacturers.  And the NVIDIA AutoTuning feature, a sort of dynamic overclocking, that we looked at with our first look at 939-pin motherboards, is something else we are seeing left out of the NF3 Ultra boards that we would love to see included.

MSI K8N Neo2 nForce3 Ultra Motherboard - Motherboards 47

The MSI K8N Neo2 motherboard does have a lot to offer any potential buyer.  It has solid performance based on a chipset that has solid stability.  I didn’t run into any problems during installation or the daily use of this motherboard.  The bios features are excellent and with a completely working PCI/AGP bus lock, this chipset may become a great overclockers companion.  Yes, VIA has implemented a PCI/AGP bus lock in their recent K8T800 Pro chipset, but the boards we have here are having some difficulty in running it locked 100% of the time.  I just got the Abit KV8 Pro in for further testing on this very issue.

The only issue I had with this board was the problematic positioning of the chipset fansink in relation to the AGP retention clip that made removal of the graphics card somewhat cumbersome.

The K8N Neo2 does not disappoint in the features department either; two Gigabit LANs, 4 SATA channels with RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 support, 7.1 channel audio, Firewire, USB 2.0 and a great enthusiast BIOS make this board a great selection for anyone look to implement the new AMD Athlon 64 processors in their 939-pin habitat.  The MSI K8N Neo2 motherboard continues a great line of products from MSI and brings a balance of performance and features to the AMD market. 

Check out some prices on the MSI K8N Neo2 motherboard!

Check out some prices on Socket 939 Athlon 64 3500+!

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