iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI 925X Neo Motherboard
Based on Intel 925X Chipset

The only (that's right!) motherboard based on Intel 925X chipset from this company. As you will see later, it's not the most stuffed one compared to products from the other companies based on the top chipset for Socket 775. However, if you take a closer look at the design, you will know that it's certainly based on the PCB for MSI 915P Neo2 motherboards, just i925X is used instead of the 915 series chipsets. Thus, we are actually facing sort of... "a come-off". Microstar couldn't possibly skip manufacturing motherboards on the 925 chipset! After all, Intel would have taken it wrong... So here you go. No, nothing of the above-said means that the motherboard is bad, slow or unstable. There just appears an impression that MSI itself is reluctant to make a hit of it. One can assume that it was decided not to rush things and wait for the release of 925XE supporting 1066 MHz FSB.

The PCB layout is standard – IDE RAID connectors are in the back, audio ins are in front of the PCI slots, density of the memory slots will hamper access to them. Access to the jumper may be hampered when the motherboard is in a case, its description is provided on the PCB. The 3-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates seven 1800 uF capacitors and several ones of a lesser capacity. The PCB also contains voltage regulators for the PCI-E x16 bus (2x1000 uF) and for memory (6x1000 uF). The PCB contains no empty seats for chips and connectors.

Motherboard dimensions – 305x245 mm ("wide" ATX, nine-screw mount, all motherboard edges are firmly fixed). The Winbond W83627THF chip is used to monitor:

  • CPU voltage, +5 V and +5 V Standby
  • RPM of 3 fans
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • Board temperature (by the on-board sensor)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • CPU socket (Socket 775)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (differ by color, grouped in pairs)
  • 1 x PCI-E x16 (with a latch)
  • 2 x PCI-E x1
  • 3 x PCI 32-bit / 33 MHz
  • Power supply: standard EPS12V (24-pin) and 4-pin connector for 12 V
  • 1 x FDD
  • 1 x IDE (Parallel ATA) – in the chipset
  • 2 x IDE (Parallel ATA) in the additional controller
  • 4 x SATA (Serial ATA) – all in the chipset
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (for additional brackets)
  • 2 x FireWire (for the additional bracket)
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • D-Bracket connector
  • Headers for a bracket with Audio-Outs and S/PDIF
  • 3 fan headers (each with rpm control).

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • LPT, COM port, FireWire connector and Coaxial S/PDIF-Out
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Fast Ethernet)
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x Audio (Mic-In, Line-In, Front, Center/Sub, Rear, S/PDIF-OUT TosLink).

Package Contents

  • Standard design box
  • User's manual in English
  • Cables:
    • 1 x ATA66/100/133 (in red cambric, with company logo)
    • 1 x FDD (in red cambric, with company logo)
    • 2 x Serial ATA
    • 1 x PCPlug-SATA power converter

  • Brackets:
    • D-Bracket
    • Rear I/O shield
    • Rear panel bracket with 2 x FireWire

  • Floppy with SATA RAID drivers
  • CD with software:
    • motherboard drivers
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    • AT&T VNC
    • E-Color 3Deep
    • DirectX 9.0b
    • PC-Cillin 2004
    • Xteq X-Setup
    • MSI CoreCenter
    • MSI DigiCell
    • MSI DMI Browser
    • MSI FuzzyLogic
    • MSI GoodMem
    • MSI InfoView
    • MSI i-Speeder
    • MSI LiveUpdate
    • MSI LockBox
    • MSI PCAlert
    • MSI PWKeeper
    • MSI SecureDoc
    • MSI SmartKey
    • MSI WMIinfo

It's a standard hardware set, one can even say minimalistic. Concerning the software, the emphasis is laid to free utilities (e.g. Xteq X-Setup) in quantity from MSI.

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on the HDA codec CMedia CMI9880L supporting 7.1 surround sound audio with front line-in/out and S/PDIF jacks
  • Network, based on the Realtek RTL8110S-32 chip (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • LAN, based on the Intel i82562EZ chip (10/100 Ethernet)
  • FireWire based on the VIA VT6306 chip supporting three ports
  • IDE (PATA) RAID based on the VIA VT6410 chip supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD and two ATA133 connectors.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.1 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

General results

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.20, -0.66
Noise level, dB (A):
Dynamic range, dB (A):
THD, %:
Intermodulation, %:
Channel crosstalk, dB:
Very good

General performance: Good (details).

Note that it's already the third motherboard from MSI we reviewed, which uses this CMedia codec and which received the modest "Good" mark for the audio quality instead of usual "Very good" and "Excellent". Some tendency...

Proprietary technologies

  • CoreCell (fine tuning system parameters and enhanced monitoring capabilities)
  • D.O.T. (dynamic overclocking)
  • LiveUpdate 3 (this motherboard is supported by the LiveUpdate software and the MSI web site, which can automatically update drivers and BIOS via Internet)
  • Active MOS (special "low-temperature" design and components)


Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper
In BIOS v2.51 from AMI Memory timings + CAS Latency, RAS Precharge, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Act. To Precharge Delay
Memory frequency selection + Auto, DDR2-333, DDR2-400, DDR2-533
PCI/PCI-E x1 bus setup -  
PCI/PCI-E x1 frequency divider setup -  
PCI IRQ manual assignment +  
FSB frequency setup + 200-232 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier + x8-x50
CPU core voltage control + 1.18-1.49 V at 0.01 V steps
Memory voltage control + 1.8-2.4 V at 0.05 V steps
Chipset voltage control -  
PCI-E bus voltage control + 1.5-2.2 V at 0.05 V steps

We used BIOS 1.0, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests.

Preliminary test results

  MSI 925X Neo Intel D925XCV
Return to Castle Wolfenstein, 800x600x32 236 235
Adobe Photoshop 7.0, script execution 00:08:22 00:08:21
DivX 5.1 Pro encoding 00:07:18 00:07:21
7-zip archiving 00:07:26 00:07:32


Dmitry Majorov (destrax@ixbt.com)
October 26, 2004

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