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Written by Brook Moore   
Sunday, 30 November 2008
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p6ngm-top.JPGMSI P6NGM mATX 

HTPC usually means you have to use a small but compromised mATX board. The MSI P6NGM is one small board that tries as hard as it's bigger brothers, but does it succeed?


With HTPC becoming more and more a mainstream thought, a few chipsets have been designed with that exact end game in mind. Unfortunately, just because a chipset has a desired function or gizmo attached, it does not equate into the motherboard manufacturers implementing said technology, fortunately, there are some motherboard manufacturers that have taken note of the HTPC desires. Case in point, this Socket 775 P6NGM motherboard from MSI. While mATX and on-board graphics might not get you all in a tizzy, on-board HDMI might make you take a second look.

MicroStar International has provided Viperlair with the P6NGM motherboard, this is a NVIDIA GeForce MCP73 series chipset based motherboard. So I have spilled the beans already as it relates to on-board HDMI, lets look over what else the P6NGM has in store for us


Form Factor

LGA-775 supporting the Intel Core 2 Quad / Core 2 Duo / Pentium Extreme Edition / Pentium D / Pentium 4 / Celeron D

Supports FSB 1333/1066/800 MHz

2 DDR2 (240-pin non-ECC) DIMMS / Max 4GB / Dual Channel - 533/667/800 MHz


1 – x16 / 1 – x1


Realtek RTL8211 10/100/1000


1 x UDMA 133/100/66 - 4 x SATA II (RAID 0/1/5/0+1) – 1 x Floppy


Realtek ALC888 7.1 (Azalia 1.0 Spec)


USB 2.0 (4 rear, 232 headers) / IEEE-1394 (1 rear, 1x header) / PS2 (2) / 6 Audio (SW selectable) / 1x VGA / 1x HDMI


A pretty full featured board for something that clocks in at 24.4cm X 22.0cm. DVI is glaringly missing (the specs show an option for one) but with HDMI on board, who needs DVI??? For the full specifications of MSI's P6NGM, you can look .

Tidbits and what fors

This being an nV based motherboard, the memory modules are positioned close to each other (I say this as most Intel based boards tend to separate the memory modules, even in mATX form factors). I wish that nV would spec out a design that gave some breathing room between the modules, especially when considering the application of this mATX board. A HTPC is going to be the most stringent of PC's when it comes to how much cooling it will get in direct proportion to how noisy it is, just by virtue of where it will live.

box box box

Inside the box we find not only the motherboard, but several packages that contain the cables and what not, lets take stock of what we have on hand:

1 IDE cable

1 Red SATA cable (one power adapter)

2 Driver CD's (one for Vista and one for XP)

MSI provides you with 2 CD's for your drivers, one CD is for MS Vista (32 and 64) and the other is for MS XP. MSI has also seen fit to provide a few utility's on their driver CD, lets take a quick look at what has been included:

Adobe Acrobat 6.0

Zero Volt partition Utility (Allows you to build a partition that will store system memory for a Hibernate restore)

Dual Core Center (Utility for overclocking)


Lock Box (more for older OS's, but allows you to lock your computer when you walk away)

Password Keeper

SecureDoc (Secure your private documents in 128bit encoding by simply right clicking)

While not a stellar list, there is some useful tools in there.

manual manual

The MSI P6NGM manual is what you would expect from a major manufacturer, a well organized and detailed layout of what you have. Interestingly enough, the manual is in English only, at least mine is. MSI could, however, ship appropriate language manuals to their respective regions.

The MSI P6NGM is neither sexy nor obtrusive to look at, it is obviously built for function and not those that have side panel windows and colored effect lighting throughout their case. Color coding is done well, assisting you in finding the items you are looking for. One thing I did not like the positioning of was the IDE connector. Its placement directly behind the Main Power connector appears as an after thought. I don't like running my data cables near my power, especially my main power connector.

The socket used on the Asus p6ngm Deluxe is of course of the LGA775 format and is located on the right rear quadrant as with most solutions today. There appears to be ample room surrounding the socket retention mechanism for most HS/Fan combinations. You can see that MSI is only providing the 4 pin EATX12V power connector (several current boards support the 8 pin connector). Once again, nothing fancy, just functional.

Moving to the left rear quadrant of the motherboard we see of course the x16 graphics slot are here along with the x1 PCIe slot. Also in the left rear quadrant you will find the USB and a FireWire risers.

Moving to the left front quadrant of the motherboard we see our Front Panel connector, Serial Port riser, 4 SATA-II junctions, one IDE your SB Heat Sink and the 24 pin main power connector.

Finally the right front section of the board where we have the memory slots, which are color coded even though there are only 2. The all but useless floppy connection can also be found here...

The Rear I/O Panel for the MSI P6NGM features (from left to right) 2 PS2 port for your keyboard / Mouse (are these still necessary?), HDMI port, VGA, a FireWire with 2x USB, RJ-45 with 2 USB connectors, and a 6 connector Audio panel.


There is only one Sys_Fan connector, so be prepared to piggy back some Molex's. Missing also is the extra Molex connector found on many motherboards somewhere near the graphics slot. Be careful of the VGA slot if you do not have the rear panel IO plate installed. In my testbed it started to lean away from the board due to the weight of the VGA cable, definitely don't want to stress out that connection.


Installing the MSI P6NGM, like many motherboards, is only an issue if something is amiss, that being said, the P6NGM installed without issue. Making sure to connect the Seagate to SATA-II #1, lets boot her up.

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