MSI P965 Neo-F For Core 2 Duo - Board Layout - Up Close

Article Index
MSI P965 Neo-F For Core 2 Duo
Board Layout - Up Close
Very Standard BIOS - Lean on Tweaking
Test Setup and Early Benchmarks
Application Benchmarks - Continued...
Game Performance and Benchmarking
Game Benchmarking - Continued...
Overclocking the P965 Neo-F
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Layout - Up Close:

This board has a pretty decent layout and follows along with Intel's fanless chipset cooling philosophy.  I'm in agreement with this school of thought - if your chipset remains cool enough in a situation where there is not a lot of airflow.  Click any of the thumbnails below to enlarge the picture for a better view of this motherboard.

Top Board Layout
 Top Board Layout

PCI Area
 PCI Area



DDR2 Area
 DDR2 Area

SATA Area
 SATA Area

For the most part the board layout is pretty good.  I like to see both the 24-pin power connector and the 4-pin power connector close together.  This keeps the bulk of your power cables together instead of spread to different parts of the board.  The power connector could be positioned higher on the board to help prevent the cables from crossing over top of the HSF however.  There should be enough room around the CPU socket for many aftermarket HSF solutions.  We have mounted a couple of large Zalman coolers with no trouble.

The PCI slot area is pretty standard.  Thankfully there are not Firewire or USB headers in between the slots as there are on other motherboards.  The ICH8 chipset is located behind the top PCI slot and it passively cooled.  If you wanted to add aftermarket cooling to this chipset, you'd be out of luck.  Fortunately, it really shouldn't be an issue as this chipset runs quite cool - even when overclocking.  You'll notice that MSI threw the Floppy connector below the bottom PCI slot.  This location makes it tough to plug in a Floppy cable if you have the board installed in a case where the motherboard sits on the bottom of the case.  Personally, I don't care as I haven't plugged in a floppy drive for a couple of years.

MSI has put the DDR2 slots close together, but not touching like Gigabyte does on some of their boards.  The more room you have between the RAM, the better cooling you're going to get.  When you're running some toasty PC2-8000, you want decent cooling.

This board has 5 SATA ports and a single IDE port.  The IDE port and the dark blue SATA connector are provided courtesy of the JMicron controller you can see in the picture above (bottom right).  Because the Intel P965 chipset doesn't provide any IDE support, MSI has decided to include the JMicron controller.  That is a good thing because not everyone runs all SATA Hard Drives and a SATA DVDRW.  The Intel chipset supports 6 SATA devices, but the Neo-F only includes 4.

I/O Connections
I/O Connections

The backplane of the P965 Neo-F motherboard is quite plain.  MSI supports legacy keyboard, mouse, Printer and Serial ports with this board.  On the back are 4 USB2.0 ports, a GB Ethernet jack, and 6 Auto-Sensing 1/8" Audio Jacks.  Compared to some motherboards with firewire, 6 USB2.0, 2 GB Ethernet and Optical Audio In/Out, this board looks fairly bare.

Below we've posted up some pictures of the Realtek HD Audio Chip, Realtek GB Ethernet chip and the Winbond PLL Generator for your viewing pleasure.

Realtek HD Audio
 Realtek HD Audio

Realtek GB Ethernet
 Realtek GB Ethernet

Windbond Generator
 Windbond Generator

Carry on as we fire up this board and take a look at the BIOS settings and features that are available.