MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R i865PE motherboard Review
The Intel i865 Springdale chipset is the next "big" thing for the Pentium 4....
right after the i875 Canterwood of course. Springdale is gaining in popularity primarily because the
little chip which gets soldered onto the motherboard offers something on
the order of around 97% of the performance of the flagship Intel
i875P, for about three-quarters of the price.
So what you say? If you're currently working with an
i850E (RDRAM) pentium 4 system and long ago made the decision to pass on
the DDR-based i845PE's which has been wooing consumers for the last
six months, you should still take note. Boards which are based on the
i850E were faster and more powerfull than their i845PE counterparts,
but the i865 tops both. Hey, it is a new chipset after
we're going to be weighing the pros and cons of MSI's first entry into the
mainstream Springdale (i865PE) desktop mainboard market - the wickedly red MSI
865PE Neo2-FIS2R. This is the top of the line model with all the bells and
whistles on board - so if you want to
save a few dollars and don't need all the little extras you can
shoot for the 'vanilla' 865PE Neo2 version.
There's good reason
to take note of the FIS2R-flavored 865PE Neo2 from MSI, the board is packed with features. Count with your fingers now as we
have; Gigabit CSA Ethernet, Serial ATA/Serial ATA RAID, 6-channel audio, eight USB2
ports, three IEEE 1394 Firewire ports, and two fan headers.
Things don't end there, the MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R also
includes one rounded IDE cable, four 'convict-orange' Serial ATA cables and two molex Y-splitter 15 pin Serial ATA power connectors. This is
the first time we've seen a manufacturer include everything required to actually use
all the Serial ATA ports and power the SATA hard drives!
because the motherboard has a ton of features on board doesn't mean it
can't be expanded either. The 865PE Neo2-FIS2R also features an 8x AGP
slot as well as five 32-bit PCI's. The motherboard supports 400/533/800 MHz
FSB based Pentium 4 Northwood processors and can use up to a maximum of 4GB
of PC1600/2100/2700/3200 non ECC DDR RAM. Phew, that was a mouthful. =) The
865G Neo2 version comes with on board graphics as well.
Ships with the following:
- Rounded IDE ATA100 Cable
- 4x Serial ATA Cables
- FDD Cable
- 2x Molex/4 Serial ATA Power
- Driver CD
- Serial ATA Floppy Driver
- RAID Driver Floppy
- User Manual
- Serial ATA Manual
- MSI Super Pack Software
Optical Audio Bracket
IEEE 1394 Bracket|
Like many other MSI motherboards we have reviewed in the past on PCstats.com, the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R uses a red
coloured PCB. The layout of the motherboard is very good, we like how many
manufacturers now place all their headers/connectors on along the edge of the of the boards too.
MSI have followed Gigabyte's lead and now colour
code (and show the positive values) the front panel I/O connector pins. You'll no
longer have to worry about installing the system then having to open it up
because you have the HDD or Power LED in the wrong position.
corners of the board are rounded, and while this is pretty trivial,
for someone who reviews motherboards constantly I can't tell you how many times I've
scratched myself... okay, back to the real stuff.
and more USB devices on the market it was nice to see that MSI includes
six ports on the rear I/O. Often manufacturers only include two
native ports while forcing the end user to use the header brackets which take
away valuable PCI expansion slots. Two more headers are included on the PCB
which do use a header, or if the case has a front panel connector they can also be connected there. With
a total of eight USB2.0 ports on one motherboard you almost have to wonder
why USB hubs are even still made...