" As far as I'm concerned, worth its weight in gold. "
Title: K7N420 Pro by MSI
Format: All in one PC motherboard
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: There's been an interesting trend in motherboards lately- all in one design. Some genius…And this guy should have been involved in the space program…Has figured out that, for a bit more money outlay during design, companies can create a motherboard that includes the video, net, and sound cards all on board for about the same price as a standard no-frills board. But, do they work? Read on, my Monkeys…Read on.
What This Monkey Thought...
Features: As I said in the hype, the 420 Pro has just about everything you need on board. In this case that includes a 10/100-network interface card, a Soundblaster Live compatible sound card, and GeForce 2 MX-400 video card! How sweet is that? A high end NIC, kick ass audio, and a great mid to high mid line video card- all wrapped up into a tight little package. And, best of all, with it's advanced jumper technology; it does two really funky things. The first is that it will allow you to designate up to one full stick of RAM (DDR in this case) for your video card. Yes, kids…That's right- run your GeForce 2 with DDR behind it. And the second is that it automatically, upon detection of a post market added AGP card, transfers that bus to secondary RAM transfer. Now, what that means in English is this: If you have two sticks of DDR RAM in your machine one can be dedicated totally to the video card…And that's keen. What's more keen is that if you then put in a after market card (like an updated GeForce 3 or 4) into the machine, instead of continuing to waste RAM on your old video card, it takes the same path way it was using to run the video and redirects it to general RAM usage. In effect opening up an entire new path for RAM and transferring info at almost twice the rate! Now, that may be a bit complicated, but the effect is phenomenal and, as far as I'm concerned, worth its weight in gold. 5 out of 5
Performance: The system we built was topped off with 512m DDR RAM and a high end AMD 1.4g Athlon XP processor. And, running nothing but the on board hardware and the out of the box drivers, we compared it to a variety of other gig plus machines running comparable video cards. What we found is that, simply using the default on board management, the board performed better than 90% of its competitors. It ran games on the Quake 3 engine up to twice as fast, older games like Half Life and Unreal Tournament at a solid and maxed out 70 or 80 plus frames per second, and 2D desktop operations like a dream. The only time it was out performed were in specific challenges with name brand hardware: I.e. the generic Soundblaster Live on board did not have the full range of a separate name brand Sound Blaster Live and didn't perform as well in the high end audio, but the short fallings were barely noticeable and, considering what your getting, was completely and totally forgivable. 4.5 out of 5
Drivers: I know you have to be patient but nothing pisses me off more than having to go hunt down drivers on the web for your new hardware. As far as I'm concerned, if it's not ready to go, don't ship it. Fortunately, that was never a problem with MSI's new baby, and the out of the box drivers have not only kept up with everything that was already on the market but has also paced with things that have been released since (like Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Aliens vs. Predator 2). Kick ass. 5 out of 5
Installation: Actual installation of the board is a complete and total synch. Lock it in, add your processor and ram, and you're ready to go. No jumpers, no hassle, no nothing. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, here we have to list the only failing of the board: Inconsistent functionality. Of 4 boards we tested…2 turned out bad- and that's no good at all. As a matter of fact, that plain sucks ass. I don't know what's up in their factory, but you may want to anticipate problems with these boards. If it were me, I would only buy one from some place with a good warranty plan and that I can easily take it back to if things go wrong. 2 out of 5
How it Compares: Despite any failings, this board is absolutely top of the line. We compared it to name brands like Asus and found this all in one ranks in cheaper, offers more, and performs just as well. We have seen then new look of motherboards and it is sweet. 4 out of 5
|Fast, sleek, easy to use, and all-inclusive…this is definitely one of the top motherboards to have! A great way to get a high-end machine built without spending much money|
The Good: Fantastic all in one design, great performance, easy to use.
The Bad: The individual components may not quite be on par with their name brand counter parts and some serious manufacturing issues.
The Overall Ugly: I'm sold, folks. If you're building a new machine you may be way better off spending your money here than on trying to component all the pieces out.
What it's Worth: Market