iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI P43 Neo-F Motherboard

An affordable mid-end product on a new chipset.

September 10, 2008

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Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

Click for the isometric view

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 1 x COM and 1 x LPT
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Six analog audio jacks (Line-In, Front, Mic-In, Rear, Center/Sub, Side)

Package contents

  • Package: an original box of the standard size
  • Papers: User's manual for MSI P45/G45/P43 Neo motherboards, quick installation guide, short HDD Backup guide
  • Cables: 1 x SATA (with a power converter for one device) and 1 x ATA66
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers for Windows XP and Vista, HDD Backup on a separate boot CD.

The package does not stand out in size or design. But it looks original: a plain carton with small stickers telling about product highlights. This is a part of MSI's general green campaign. In particular, the company uses recycled paper and soybean paint (based on soybean oil instead of refined oil). The bundle is also modest, which can also be considered a plus from the environmental point of view. No unnecessary cables to recycle.

Most manufacturers abandoned attempts to create and bundle general-purpose software long ago. Their software developers are busy with more useful applications for monitoring, overclocking, BIOS updating, etc. These are truly unique programs for certain motherboards or their families. However, in this case the bundle includes HDD Backup -- a simple program to back up and restore HDD partitions. We tried this program and can tell you that it's an unassuming application (both functionally and visually). It's not even close to popular software from Acronis and others. Such programs are usually flashed onto firmware to be invoked during BIOS setup. We don't see any reasons to add HDD Backup to the boot CD.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the 10-channel (7.1+2) HDA codec Realtek ALC888 (modern Mid-End codec), 7.1-ch audio, front line-ins/outs and S/PDIF-Out jacks (the bundle contains no brackets with S/PDIF)
  • Gigabit Ethernet, based on Realtek RTL8111C (PCIEx1), supporting 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • IDE, based on JMicron JMB368 (PCIEx1) supporting 2 x ATA133 devices, including full support for CD/DVD drives.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB +0.02, -0.04 Excellent
Noise level, dB (A) -92.8 Very good
Dynamic range, dB (A) 92.8 Very good
THD, % 0.0011 Excellent
Harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -83.4 Good
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.0075 Excellent
Channel crosstalk, dB -91.2 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, % 0.0071 Excellent

General performance: Excellent. The 10-channel audio codec ALC888, used in this motherboard, does not possess additional functions to interest home users (for example, DTS or real-time AC-3 encoding to output audio to S/PDIF). However, the analog output offers very good audio quality, which is even higher than the typical level of all modern motherboards with HDA -- the integrated audio system gets a rare excellent mark for this test.

We also want to note that the IDE controller on this motherboard performs very well (modern Intel chipsets lack such controllers in their Southbridges). It had no problems with detecting an optical drive when booting Windows. It allowed to boot up from a CD, etc.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design, ports

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, performance

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