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Home > Hardware Reviews > PC Parts

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
MSI K8N Diamond

1. Introduction

Micro-Star International is one of the leading board manufacturers world-wide. Founded in 1986, the philosophy of the company is "to offer Award-winning product quality and outstanding customer service". Apart from mainboards, MSI manufactures add-on cards, servers/workstations, barebones, optical storage devices, communications devices and IA accessories.

The MSI K8N motherboard was one of the first mainboards to utilize NVidia's nForce4 MCP, offering SLI support for outstanding graphics experience. There is a Platinum edition and a Diamond edition. The main differences between these two is that the Diamond edition supports more SATA drives. There is also an optional WiFi-Bluetooth add-in card. CDRinfo will be testing the MSI K8N Diamond (with no WiFi-Bluetooth card) in this review.

- Features

The complete list of all features that the K8N SLI Diamond motherboard offers can be seen below.

Supports AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64FX/Athlon 64, which are based on AMD's 64-bit and 32-bit architecture.
The NVIDIA nForce4 Scalable Link Interface (SLI) technology will let you work with two identical graphic boards and combine their processing power.
Active MOS is proven to be able to lower components temperature on a motherboard, including those of inductors, PWM IC and capacitors. By lowering temperature of the components, the life span of a motherboard is extended.
Fast ATA133 controllers will work in high transfer speed, with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA133/100/66 operation modes.. You can connect up to 4 IDE devices
AMD's Cool'n'Quiet technology will ensure that the CPU will run at high speed only when it is needed. By reducing the operating frequency of the CPU when there are low CPU demands, the CPU will run at lower temperature, eliminating crashes and blue screens.

CoreCell is composed of 4 features: Speedster (Maximum Overclocking),PowerPro (powersaving), LifePro (constant temp control, smart FAN ) and BuzzFree (noise management). It allows user to clearly understand the system info from AP and BIOS.
CoreCenter merges MSI features--FuzzyLogic and PC Alert. It provides user more advanced overclocking options by extending the Voltage selection, increasing the frequency adjustable range CPU/AGP/DDR/PCI. It monitors every temperature inside the system, control it according to system current loading and need.

There are two LAN connectors on board. One by nForce4 SLI chipset and one by Marvell 88E8053. You can now work with up to 1Gb connection speed.
MSI chooses Creative chipsets as the on-board sound device. This is a feature not easily seen on AMD mainboards. You will surely enjoy exceptional sound quality. The SoundBlaster Live! 24-bit chipset supports up to 7.1 CH Surround Sound, and is Dolby Digital ready.
The nForce4 chipset offers up to 10 USB2.0 ports, while the VIA 6306 chipset offers up to three IEEE1394 ports.
The ultimate combo of MSI™ exclusive Live BIOS™, Live Driver™, Live Utility ,Live Monitor. With Live Update 3, you can update online BIOS/Driver/Utility. Live Monitor auto-detects and suggests the latest BIOS/Driver/Utilities information.
The nForce4 SLI chipset adds four SATA II ports (RAID 0 or 1, 0+1, JBOD is supported, up to 4 SATA + 2 ATA133 Hard drives), and the Silicon Image chipset offers two more SATA II ports (RAID 0 or 1, JBOD groups and multiple RAID).
The mainboard supports up to 4 184-pin DDR DIMMs, that can operate in Dual-mode to boost performance. Maximum memory size supported is 4GB.

You can see the complete specification table below:


• Supports Socket 939 for AMD® Athlon™ 64 FX / Athlon™ 64 processor
• Supports up to 3500+, 3800+ Athlon 64 FX 53, or higher CPU

Chipset NVIDIA nForce®4 SLI
Front Side Bus 2000 MT/s, 1600MT/s
Memory • Supports dual channel DDR 266/333/400, using four 184-pin DDR DIMMs.
• Supports a maximum memory size up to 4GB.
• Supports 2.5v DDR SDRAM DIMM.
Expansion Slots • Two PCI Express x16 slot (supports PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant)
• Two PCI Express x1 slots (by share) (support PCI Express Bus specification v1.0a compliant)
• Three 32-bit v2.3 Master PCI bus slots (support 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface).

- Under SLI mode : support two identical SLI-ready graphics cards (x8)
- Under Default(Single VGA) mode: supports all PCI Express graphics cards (x16)

Storage/ RAID

• NV RAID supports 4 SATA II ports(SATA 1 to 4). Transfer rate is up to 300MB/s.
• Silicon Image's SATA RAID supports another 2 SATA II ports. Transfer rate is up to 300MB/s.

NV RAID (Software)
• Supports up to 4 SATA + 2 ATA133 Hard drives
- RAID 0 or 1, 0+1, JBOD is supported
- RAID function available for ATA133 + SATA HD drives or 2 SATA HD

Silicon Image's SATARAID™ (Software)
• RAID 0 or 1, JBOD groups and multiple RAID are supported
• Support up to 2 SATA devices connected to a single controller

- Two independent SATA controllers, for four drives
- Dual Fast ATA-133 IDE controllers

- IEEE 802.3 NVIDIA MAC for 1000BASE-T
(An IDE controller on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO,
Bus Master and Ultra DMA133/100/66 operation modes)

LAN • Supports dual LAN jacks
- 1st LAN supports 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by nForce4 SLI
- 2nd PCI Express LAN supports 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet by Marvell 88E8053
Audio Creative sound Blaster Live 24-bit onboard audio
- 24-bit / 96KHz audio quality
- 100db SNR clarity
- Up to 7.1 CH Surround Sound, Dolby Digital ready
IEEE 1394 VIA 6306 chipset
- Supports up to three 1394 ports. (Rear panel x1, front x2)
- Transfer rate is up to 400Mbps
USB Max. 10 USB2.0 ports
On-Board Peripherals - 1 floppy port supports 2 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes
- 1 serial port
- 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
- 1 Audio jack(5-in-1), coaxial/fiber SPDIF out
- 1 IrDA pinheader
- 1 D-Bracket2 pinheader
- 10 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / Front x 6)
- 2 RJ45 LAN jacks
- 3 IEEE 1394 connectors (Rear x 1/ Front x 2)
• The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and
   expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your
   mainboard specifications.
Dimension 30.4cm(L) x 24.4cm(W) ATX Form Factor
Mounting 9 mounting holes

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