There is plenty of space between the two dark blue
PCI Express x16 slots for videocards with dual slot heatsinks (for Crossfire mode, only these
two slots are usable). If all four PCI Express x16 slots are populated,
all cards receive 8 PCI-e lanes.
Looking at the bottom right hand corner of the MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard we
find an IDE channels and six Serial ATA II channels. Two SATAII headers
(in red) are SAS compatible, all offer RAID 0/1/10 - including
the two eSATA jacks. Hard power and reset buttons make tweaking the K9A2
Platinum a pleasure.
The MSI K9A2 Platinum has four 240-pin
DDR2 memory DIMM slots which accommodate 8GB of DDR-2 1066/800/667/533 RAM. Populate
the DIMM slots of the same colour first, for dual channel memory. To the
right of the DIMM slots are the main 24 pin ATX power
The AMD 790FX chipset cooling solution is quite fancy.
The heatpipes connect both north and southbridge to the MOSFET
heatsink. There is plenty of space around the AM2 CPU socket for large after
market thermal solutions.
is a quick look at AMDs 790FX chipset, and then PCSTATS dives right into
overclocking the MSI K9A2 Platinum
AMD 790FX and SB600 Core Logic
AMD's 790FX platform encompasses two physical chipsets,
the AMD 790FX northbridge and AMD SB600 southbridge. The hallmark features of
the AMD 790FX are 2GHz Hypertransport 3, PCI Express 2.0 compliancy and support
for 2/3/4-way CrossfireX multi-videocard collections.
Built on TSMC's 65nm manufacturing process, the
benefit of its smaller die size yields both greater power efficiency
(8W-10W) and a significantly smaller footprint than comparable Intel or nVidia
core logic. The 790FX supports all of AMD's 32-bit and 64-bit Socket
AM2/AM2+ Athlon64/Phenom/Sempron processors.
PCI Express 2.0 lanes are in plentiful supply, with no less than
42 directly from the AMD 790FX northbridge. Of these, four PCI Express
lanes are reserved for the interconnect between the 790FX and SB600, while six
are dedicated to onboard devices, or for use as PCI Express x1 expansion slots.
That leaves 32 PCI Express 2.0 lanes for multi-videocard arrangements, either
receiving x16/x16 lanes for Crossfire or x8/x8/x8/x8 in a 4-way CrossfireX
configuration. Since these are PCI Express 2.0 lanes, bandwidth should be more
With regards to integrated devices, the AMD 790FX/SB600 is an adequate partnership, but not very
generous. The AMD SB600 supports four PCI Express lanes (used for the
790FX-to-SB600 interconnect), a skimpy four 3Gbps SATAII ports, RAID
0,1,0+1 and two IDE channels for legacy optical or hard drives. Four SATA ports
is cutting it rather short, so it's not surprising MSI has turned to a
Promise chipset with its K9A2 Platinum motherboard for additional SATAII
Audio is taken care of by either AC97 codec or Intel high definition audio,
depending on which the manufacturer chooses to implement. Also built into the
SB600 are ten USB 2.0 ports, but the 790FX curiously opts out of
integrated Gigabit networking. No matter, most motherboard vendors seem to
pick inexpensive PCI-based network PHYs anyway.
Up next, overclocking the MSI K9A2 Platinum