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AMD have supported DDR for a long time, even when Intel have long been supporting the DDR2 standard. But a few months back, AMD released the first AM2 socket processors which signaled the move to DDR2 and virtually the death of DDR RAM. The new socket AM2 940 pin processors were not at all different from the older 939 socket processors, except the integrated memory controller (IMC) which was set to drive DDR2 RAM. Because of the IMC, the Athlon processors delivered fantastic memory benchmark results when paired with DDR2 RAM. That said in real world terms, this translated to only a few percent gain in everyday applications, but still it boosted the responses of the PC and its all-around performance slightly. The new AM2 socket has another trait though; DDR2 RAM is slightly cheaper than DDR, and many new motherboards have been released which are not only more advanced but more competively priced. Today we will take a look at three middle-range motherboards for socket AM2, which offer good value for money.

The three motherboards we have for review today are the Abit KN9-SLI, the Asus M2N-E and the MSI K9N Platinum. All of the three are in the 90-120 Euro price range. The Asus and MSI motherboards are using the nForce 570 Ultra chipset, while the Abit is the only one which supports SLI and is using the nForce 570 SLI chipset. Here is a quick comparison between the three motherboards:

  Abit KN9-SLI Asus M2N-E MSI K9N Platinum
Chipset NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI MCP NVIDIA nForce 570 Ultra MCP NVIDIA nForce 570 Ultra MCP
Memory Support Four Dual DDR II 533/667/800 DIMMs
8GB maximum, ECC and non-ECC supported
Four Dual DDR II 533/667/800 DIMMs
8GB maximum, ECC and non-ECC supported
Four Dual DDR II 533/667/800 DIMMs
8GB maximum, ECC and non-ECC supported
Audio subsystem 7.1 CH HD Audio CODEC (ALC883)Supports auto jack sensing and optical S/P DIF Out ADI 1988 8-channel High Definition Audio CODECSupport Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Re tasking
SPDIF out on back I/O port
Chipset integrated by Realtek (ALC883)Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensingCompliant with Azalia 1.0 Spec
LAN subsystem Dual NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet NVIDIA nForce® 570 Ultra MCP built-in Gigabit MAC with external Marvell PHY Dual LAN jacks 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Vitesse VSC8601
Storage subsystem Supports 6 ports SATA 3Gb/s RAID 0/1/0+1/5/JBOD1 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 33 1 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 336 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/sNVIDIA RAID supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD across Serial ATA drives 1 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 336 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/sSATA II 1~6 supports RAID 0/ 1/ 0+1 or RAID 5 mode by NVIDIA® nForce 570
Firewire support Supports IEEE1394a (Firewire) at 400 Mb/s transfer rate
-
Chipset integrated by VIA VT6307, 400 Mb/s transfer rate
Motherboard expansion slots 2 x PCI Express x16
2 x PCI Express x1
2 x PCI
1 x PCI Express x16 slot
1 x PCI Express x4 slot
2 x PCI Express x1  
3 x PCI 2.2
1 PCI Express x16 slot (PCI_E1)
1 PCI Express Lite slot (PCI_E4, compatible with PCI Express x1)
2 PCI Express x1 slots
3 PCI slots, support 3.3V/ 5V PCI bus Interface, includes one orange slot
which supports 2 master for MSI special PCI function card
(ex. wireless LAN and Bluetooth combo card.).
Internal Connectors 1 x Floppy port
6 x SATA connectors
1 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33 connector
3 x USB 2.0 headers
2 x 1394 headers
3 x USB 2.0 connectors support additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector for two devices
6 x SATA connectors
1 x ADH connector
1 x Parallel connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
Front Panel Audio connector
1x S/PDIF output connector
CD audio in
CD-in connector
IrDA infrared module header
Chassis intrusion switch connector
Front panel audio connector
Front panel connector
D-Bracket2 connector
1 x IEEE1394 connector support additional 1 ports
3 x USB 2.0 connector support additional 6 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
6 x Serial ATA II connectors
1 x ATA133 HD connectors
Back Panel Connectors 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
4 x USB ports
2 x RJ-45 LAN port
1 x S/P DIF Out
8-channel Audio ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
1 x PS/2 Mouse (green)
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Out port
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x COM port
8-channel Audio ports
1 x Parallel port
1 x Serial port (COM 1)
1 x PS/2 keyboard
1 x PS/2 mouse
1 x Coaxial SPDIF out
1 x IEEE1394 Port
1 x 6 in 1 audio jack (S/SPDIF out)
4 x USB 2.0 ports
2 x RJ45 LAN jack
Form factor ATX form factor 305 x 245mm ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm) 30.5cm(L) x 24.5cm(W) ATX Form Factor
Special Features ABIT SoftMenu Technology
ABIT CPU ThermalGuard Technology
ABIT Silent-OTES Technology
Supports AMD CPU Cool 'n' Quiet Technology
SLI Support
AI Nap
AI Gear
Advanced Thermal Design: ASUS Fanless Design: Heat-pipe Thermal solution
ASUS Crystal Sound: Noise Filter
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
AMD Live! Ready
(None mentioned in the product’s webpage, however the
MSI CoreCell is the most important of them)




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