Like every other flagship Athlon64 motherboard on the market, the MSI K8N
Neo4 Platinum/SLI is very well equipped. We were especially happy to find a proper hardware soundcard used, instead of
common audio codec.
We've long complained about the quality of sound
from onboard audio codecs (though they have gotten much better as of late) and
the amount of system resources they can take up. With a dedicated Creative
hardware sound card built into the K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI motherboard, users should not have
to worry about either of these issues.
[Update: Be advised that information PCstats previously quoted which stated "192kHz/24-bit sound quality" for the K8N Neo4 SLI is incorrect, it should be 96kHz/24-bit. Also, the onboard Creative SoundBlaster Live! does not have a Dolby Interactive Content Encoder built into the soundcard. The information that we quoted was also incorrect.]
The onboard Creative Sound Blaster
Live! 24-bit samples at 96 KHz and features full support for Creative's EAX HD technology.
Pretty impressive for an onboard
soundcard don't you think!? You won't have to buy a third party
hardware soundcard to get quality audio out of this board.
K8N Neo4 Platinum/SLI
also features an additional Serial ATA II
/RAID controller, which is a nice treat.
Serial ATA II offers a whole host of improvements over the
original Serial ATA standard, not just a speed increase.
SATAII, overall bandwidth doubles to 3Gb/s (with supporting drives), though I doubt we'll see hard drive
transfer speeds actually reach that speed any time soon. The extra bandwidth is useful
when you figure in the Sil3132's port multiplier capabilities. With the ability to connect up to 60 HDDs onto one Serial
ATA II connection (again with compatible drives
and port multiplier hardware) 3Gb/s worth of bandwidth seems almost tiny! Not that you need to worry about that for
the moment, Port Multiplier devices are not
available yet, and neither are compatible Serial ATA II hard drives.
NCQ (Native Command Queuing) has
also been integrated into the controller, which allows the HDD to collect data out
of sequence for faster data transfers/access. Finally, the Silicon Image
Sil3132 supports RAID, specifically RAID modes 0 and 1 although when a Port
Multiplier is used in conjunction with drives. RAID 0+1 and 5 are also
The MSI K8N
Neo4 Platinum/SLI comes with two Gigabit network ports, neither of which, I'm happy
to report, run on the PCI bus. The first integrated nVIDIA Gigabit network
card connects to the nForce4 MCP via an "Intel CSA" style direct connection.
The second Marvell 88EE1111 Gigabit NIC runs along the PCI Express 1x bus.
This means that even if both Gigabit network cards were running at full speed,
your system would have plenty of bandwidth available to do other things too.