Specifications: The motherboard supports CPU's with the AM2 and AM2+ standard. This includes most Athlon 64 X2 and all Phenom CPU's. Still it's recommended to check MSI's CPU support list before buying. The motherboard supports CPU's from the AM2 and AM2+ sockets, meaning
CPU (Max Support)
Max Memory (GB)
USB ports (Rear)
Audio ports (Rear)
Serial ports (Rear)
Parallel ports (Rear)
1394 ports (Rear)
The motherboard supports 4 DDR2 modules at a maximum of 800 MHz and a total of 8GB RAM can be used in the board. The board is equipped with a single PCI-E x16 expansion slot and a single PCI-E x1 slot. Besides that, there's the option of using two PCI expansion slots on the motherboard for stuff like wireless networking. The motherboard also supports RAID in the 0, 1 0+1, 5 or JBOB configurations trough the Nvidia chipset. A floppy disc with a driver for the operating system is not included and must be made by the user. So make sure this disc has been created before you delete all the partitions. This must be used when installing the operating system.
With the introduction of AMD's new chipset 780G it's now possible to build a home theater without installing a separate graphicscard. The graphicscard integrated in the chipset is called HD3200 and is a pretty powerful one. Previously we've looked at the GeForce 8200 as an integrated solution from Nvidia, and it's safe to say that the HD3200 is miles in front of that. HD3200 is able to decode nearly all HD video material (MPEG2, H-264 and VC-1), as long as you use a supported player like PowerDVD. PowerDVD however is not bundled, so how this works we'll have to test some other day.
The HD3200 graphicscard uses the integrated memory as the frame buffer. Up to 512Mb is possible to allocate for the graphicscard, plenty of memory for an integrated solution. Even though the graphicscard is integrated there's something to gain in connection with performance and games. As we're coming back to later, the HD3200 is way ahead of GeForce 8200.
The product: MSI has not chosen to use high quality capacitors. Not even around the CPU socket were high quality components is usually used. This might be because the price has to be kept low, but I hope that newer revisions will feature better quality components. A Phenom consumes a lot of power and this creates a higher operating temperature, which also sets some higher demands for the components.
The motherboard also has a power plug next to the CPU socket, but only one. The plug was introduced alongside with the Pentium 4 processor, and since then it has developed to consist of two plugs. On this board only one can be found, even though the board supports the Phenom CPU with 4 cores.