MSI DKA790GX Platinum Reviewajmatson -
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The MSI DKA790GX is very well laid out with plenty of space so that components do not block each other too much that it creates a lot of problems. MSI uses a black colored PC Board with a color scheme that is easy on the eyes while showing off its wares. This board is based off of the AMD 790GX Northbridge and the SB750 Southbridge for speed and dependability. With this combination your system will never leave you wanting more. The back of the motherboard has the CPU heatsink retention bracket whick evens the load from the CPU heatsink to prevent damage to the board. The Northbridge also has embedded ATI Radeon HD 3300 graphics.
The I/O back panel offers a lot for your computing needs. There is a legacy PS/2 port which is colored purple for keyboards however it will accept a mouse also, there are six USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, a FireWire port, an optical SPDIF port, and the analog 7.1 channel HD audio ports. For video you have it all: a DVI port, an HDMI port, and the legacy VGA port.
Sliding down to the expansion slots you have two PCI Express x16 slots which support CrossFire and CrossFireX. The top slot runs in x16 mode for a single card and x8 when paired with another card in the lighter blue slot which runs at x8 only. For single GPU setups only use the top darker blue slot. There are also two PCI Express x1 slots for the newer expansion cards coming out on the market and two legacy PCI slots for older expansion cards.
The CPU area is pretty clear considering the size of the cooling solution the DKA790GX Platinum uses. I had no problem installing a stock heatsink as well as the OCZ Vendetta II which is a large obtrusive heatsink. The MSI DKA790GX Platinum uses a five phase power designs supported by DrMOS, which has not been implemented on an AMD board until now. DrMOS is a driver-MOSFET package which MSI claims is very power efficient. The DKA790GX Platinum supports up to 8GB of DDR2-1066MHz memory in four DIMM slots. Each color represents a channel and MSI recommends using the orange slots when running only two DIMM's for dual channel.
On this motherboard there are headers a plenty. Starting from the bottom left of the board there is a front panel audio header, a CD in header, the floppy port, three USB 2.0 headers, a power button, a reset button, a clear CMOS button, two front panel headers, five SATA II 3.0Gbs ports, and an IDE port. To the bottom right of the Southbridge heatsink there is a TPM header (Trusted Platform Module), and a COM header for legacy COM devices. (Yes the COM device is old but if you are a network admin you know when the COM port is still needed). Four of the SATA ports are set at 90 degrees so that they are unobstructed when a large graphics card is placed in the second PCI Express x16 slot however one is still straight out and you may have problems accessing it with some cards installed.
MSI has implemented a Flat Circu-Pipe design for the cooling of the DKA790GX Platinum motherboard to keep the critical parts of the board as cool as possible. This includes a heatsink on the voltage regulators, a circular fin heatsink on the Northbridge, and a small fin type heatsink on the Southbridge. The North and Southbridge is connected via two heatpipes used to whisk away heat from the chipsets and dissipate into the case. All of the heatsinks and pipes are constructed of copper for beter thermal conductivity.
Two special items that need to be pointed out are the onboard overclocking switches and the Sideport memory. First the overclocking switches allow you to overclock the board using a combination of the dip switches. The four options, which adjust the HyperTransport Speed, are stock 200MHz, 10% overclock for 220MHz, 15% overclock for 230MHz, and 20% overclock which is at 240MHz. This does not alter your multiplier however if you are using a Black Box CPU. Second under the Northbridge heatsink you will notice a chip marked Elpida. This is the onboard Sideport Memory used to boost the onboard graphics giving it a faster frame buffer than what the shared system memory can provide. This chip is a 128MB capacity DDR3-1333MHz chip which offers up to a 10% boost for your onboard graphics.
Now that the board is out and examined let's install everything and boot her up.