MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R - Page 4

..:: Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The Intel i82865PE Northbridge is covered by a fairly large, aluminum heatsink equipped with a clear “blue” colored fan. This fan adds another aesthetically pleasing aspect to the MSI 865PE Neo2-FIS2R. When the system is powered up, the green, red, and blue LED’s around this fan will display a miniature light show within the case. This is a nice feature and certainly adds to the value for modding fans out there such as myself. I already have two blue cold cathode’s running in my main system, and this fan, although little adds even more light to an already bright enclosure, along with a little added flavor. If you happened to remove the heatsink unit, you’d find that a thermal interface pad is used for thermal transfer between the i82865PE’s core and the heatsink. Both the i82865PE and the heatsink are, as usual, oriented on a forty five degree angle to the bottom of the processor socket, much like we have seen in previous reviews.

If we take a look to the left of the i82875P Northbridge, we come across several of the main and most important components dealing with the core voltage power supply, and clock control. This area is home to the main four-pin 12V core voltage power connection and the Intersil MOSFET driver, along with the ICS chip which is responsible for clock generation. This area also houses the three-pin power connector for the Northbridge cooling unit’s fan. Other than these items, this area of the board is fairly clean, although there are a few larger electrical components such as capacitors and an inductor scattered about.

..:: Layout: Expansion Slot Area ::..

As usual, the next stop on our trek around the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R‘s PCB is the expansion slot area. This is, as usual, where things will begin to get a little bit busier as far as components and chips go. The expansion slot setup is much like we are used to seeing on modern motherboards, with one AGP 8X / 4X slot, and five PCI slots. The AGP slot is red in color to match the theme of the motherboard, and features the typical locking mechanism that we are used to seeing on MSI motherboards. The area around the locking clip is fairly clean with only a few capacitors and FET’s in the area. Nothing here should make removal of the graphics adapter difficult. Unlike what we have seen in the last few reviews, the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R does not suffer from the problem of the DIMM clips overlapping the AGP slot. With the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R, you won’t need to remove the graphics card in order to add, remove, or swap RAM.

The bulk of the chips and connectors that we will come across in the expansion slot area of the board are generally limited to the onboard audio and Ethernet devices. Other than these few items, this portion of the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R is quite quiet component wise in comparison to many other feature packed motherboards. The first chip that we come across is located under the rear I/O panel, and it is the Intel 82547EI Gigabit LAN controller chip. The 865PE Neo2-FIS2R does indeed utilize the new CSA bus, and therefore will not add any pressure on the already packed PCI bus. This area of the PCB is also home to two separate clock crystals, one for 25.0MHz and one for 14.3MHz.

The next few items that we come across in the expansion slot area of the motherboard are all dedicated solely to the onboard audio. The first of these items is black CD audio in header, located to the left of PCI slots two and three. Normally we would see an additional audio header here for an auxiliary input, although it seems that MSI has chosen to leave this option off of the 865PE Neo2-FIS2R. Located directly below the CD audio header, we come across the CMedia CMI9739A audio codec.

The last items that we come across in the expansion slot area of the motherboard are all located underneath the fifth PCI slot, along the bottom edge of the PCB. Here we come across three separate headers. The first of these headers is a small four pin header factory equipped with two green jumpers. If you plan on utilizing the included audio expansion bracket for center / subwoofer connections, this is the header where the cable will need to be connected. To the right of this header, we next come across the S/PDIF connector for added digital audio support, once again provided via the rear expansion bracket. Finally, we come across the front panel audio header. This is the best positioning for this header that I have seen in quite some time. This is exactly where I would prefer to see it located on all motherboards.