iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI K7N2 (NVIDIA nForce2) Mainboard

We tested a preproduction sample, that is why it's quite possible that they will change it, especially its accessory pack, before throwing the board onto the market. 


  • Package of a standard design; 
  • Cables: 2 Serial ATA, 1 ATA66/100/133 and FDD; 
  • D-Bracket; 
  • Bracket for the rear computer panel. 

The complains about the board's layout are obvious but not very grave: IDE, power supply and audio connectors make it difficult to handle the cables inside the PC case. It can be difficult to reach some jumpers when the board is already installed. Their functions are shown on the textolite.  

The 2-channel switching voltage regulator incorporates 6 capacitors of 2200 uF and 3 of 1500 uF. 

The following controllers are integrated: 

  • audio controller based on the chipset's capabilities and C-Media CMI9739A AC'97 codec supporting 5.1 audio systems and having connectors for front audio outputs; 
  • network controller based on the chipset's capabilities and supporting 10BaseT/100BaseTX. 

Non-unsoldered connectors: TV-Out (it will probably be available in the model with an integrated video adapter) and a Serial ATA/IDE RAID controller with connectors. 

The system monitoring is supported by the Winbond W83627HF-AW chip. What is controlled: 

  • processor voltage, +3.3, +-5 and +-12 V, VBAT and +5 V Standby; 
  • speed of 2 fans; 
  • temperatures of the processor (a built-in sensor) and the board (a built-in sensor). 

There are 2 connectors for adjustable connection of fans. 

Brief characteristics of the board: memory slots - 3 DDR SDRAM; expansion slots - AGP/ 5 PCI/ ACR; I/O ports - 2 COM/ LPT/ 2 PS/2/ 6 USB 2.0; dimensions - 305x230 mm. 

Adjustment can be carried out with: 

jumpers and switchesJumper to clear up the CMOS 
Jumper for starting up computer from a PS/2 keyboard 
Jumpers for starting up computer from USB keyboard 
BIOS based on the AwardBIOS 6.00PG of PhoenixSetup of memory timings+T(RAS), T(RCD), T(RP), CAS Latency
Setup of memory frequency+FSB:DRAM = By SPD, 2:1, 5:3, 3:2, 4:3, 5:4, 6:5, 1:1, 5:6, 4:5, 3:4, 2:3, 3:5, 1:2
Setup of AGP bus- 
Setup of PCI bus- 
Changeable scaler of AGP and PCI buses+66-120 MHz in 1MHz steps
Manual assignment of interrupts+ 
Changeable FSB frequency+100-200 MHz in 1 and 2 MHz steps
Changeable CPU multiplier+x7-x13
Changeable core voltage+1.55-1.8 V in 0.025V steps
Changeable memory voltage+2.5, 2.6, 2.7 V
Changeable chipset voltage- 
Changeable AGP bus voltage+1.5, 1.6, 1.7 V

We used the BIOS 3.0B2 as the latest available version. 

It seems that MSI decided that this modern chipset is sufficiently attractive itself, and there is no need to add frills making it even more expensive. In this model they stake on the overclocking parameters as well. 

Test results: 

Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com

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