This motherboard has 10 USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard and six available through I/O brackets) and two FireWire ports controlled by VIA VT6307 chip (one soldered on the motherboard and one available through an I/O bracket). Like K9N Diamond, this motherboard uses colored USB headers, helping a lot installing the USB ports from the case – once you learned the color code, you don’t need to read the manual anymore; in fact not even this, as there is a big plus and a big minus signals printed on each header, meaning D+ and D-, so you can install the frontal USB ports from the case without reading the manual. We hope other manufacturers start to adopt this same idea soon. You can see this in Figure 3.
Following MSI tradition, the USB I/O bracket containing two USB ports that come with this motherboard have a LED diagnostics device (”D-Bracket 2“).
This motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the south bridge using a Realtek RTL8111B to make the physical layer interface.
The audio section from this motherboard provides 7.1 audio, produced by the south bridge chip with the aid of a Realtek ALC883 codec. This codec provides a low (for today’s standards) signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs – only 85 dB. So it is not advisable to use this motherboard for professional audio capturing and editing (the minimum recommended for this application is 95 dB), unless you install a professional add-on audio card on it. Also the maximum sampling rate for its inputs is of 96 kHz, while its outputs supports up to 192 kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio for its output is of 95 dB.
On the rear panel (Figure 4) you can find the Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire port, analog audio inputs/outputs (7.1 format), SPDIF coaxial and optical outputs, plus one serial port, one parallel port, PS/2 mouse and PS/2 keyboard connectors.
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Figure 4: Motherboard rear connectors.
This motherboard has an EPS12V auxiliary power connector, however if your power supply does not provide an EPS12V connector you can install the power supply ATX12V connector to the motherboard EPS12V connector, as this board comes with a cover that closes the EPS12V extra pins allowing you to make this installation. This board also has a standard peripheral power connector, but MSI does not say when it should be used. So we recommend you connecting it to the power supply to avoid any trouble.
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Figure 5: Motherboard power connectors.
MSI used aluminum solid capacitors on this motherboard voltage regulator (see Figure 6), which is great to prevent capacitor leakage, as these capacitors don’t suffer from this disease. Even though the other electrolytic capacitors used on this motherboard aren’t solid, the majority are from a good Japanese manufacturer, Chemi-Con. There are, however, some capacitors from Taiwanese OST and four capacitors used on the audio section are from G-Luxon, which has a bad reputation due to leakage problems. MSI could use a different supplier for these caps.
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Figure 6: The voltage regulator circuit uses aluminum solid electrolytic capacitors.
This motherboard comes with just one CD, containing its drivers and utilities.