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MSI P7NGM Digital Print
Written by Scott Harness   
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
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thumb.JPGMSI P7NGM Digital

NVIDIA and MSI make a good team with the P7NGM Digital. This is an mATX board with more features than you might expect, and more to offer than just budget media duties.

Manufacturer:
Price:

Today is the release day for the new motherboards. We will be looking at the based mATX motherboard, which aims to bridge the gap between onboard graphics and game playing frame rates, something that can come in handy if you're on a budget or perhaps looking to build a Multimedia PC such as an HTPC. It doesn't stop there though, as the gives the more than one trick up it's sleeve.

Usually, onboard graphics means "just enough" but with the 9x00 series, are keen to point out that just enough is "not good enough". Coupled with Full HD Decoding, these are seriously diverse boards, and in the case of the , it's a lot to put on the shoulders of a small board. Will it hold up? Let's find out.

Specifications

Form Factor
mATX
CPU

LGA-775 supporting the Intel Core 2 Family / Pentium D / Pentium 4 / Celeron D / Celeron

Chipset / MGPU
NVIDIA GeForce 9300
FSB
Supports up to FSB 1333 MHz
Memory

Dual Channel DDR2-800

Direct 10 Support

Yes

Graphics Cores 16
Core/Shader Clocks 450/1200 MHz
Texture Fill Rate 3.6 Billion / second
Max. AA 16x
RAMDACs 400MHz
Max. HDR 128-bit
Max. Analog Res. 2048x1536
Max. Digital Res. 2560x1600
GeForce Boost Yes
NVIDIA PureVideo HD Yes - Full HD Decode (1080i/p)
Display Options RGB, Dual-Link DVI, HDMI
PCI 2
PCI-Express 2.0 20 Lanes (1x16, 1x4)
SATA II 6 Ports
MediaSheild

Yes

NIC

10/100/1000

Audio

HDA 7.1 LPCM (Azalia)

Ports

USB 2.0 (12 / 2C) / IEEE-1394 (1x header, 1x rear) / PS2 (2) / 6 Audio / 1x VGA / 1x HDMI (1.3a) / 1x RGB

Key Features of the GeForce 9300

9300.png

Advanced, highly integrated, single chip design offers game changing performance—five times the performance of Intel integrated graphics.

A 16-core motherboard GPU that delivers enough horsepower to drive top DX9 and DX10 enthusiast games—at playable frame rates—with full support for hardware antialiasing and advanced filtering.

A first for integrated graphics: the ability to run the top 30 games at playable frame rates, and more importantly, with full support for advanced graphics features, ensuring the game is experienced the way it was meant to be played.

Adobe® Photoshop® CS4 allows digital artists of all kinds to work in a more intuitive way by taking basic Photoshop tasks and accelerating them with the power of NVIDIA motherboard graphics.

Brings CUDA technology to new mainstream desktops.

New Hybrid PhysX feature turns the motherboard GPU into a dedicated PhysX processor.

Dedicated PureVideo HD video processor powers full spec BluRay playback with support for 8-channel LPCM audio, delivering the most advanced media center capabilities of any integrated graphics platform.

Full offload of H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 HD video titles at lower CPU utilization frees the CPU for other tasks, and a perfect HQV HD score means the highest visual quality of any integrated-graphics platform.

Support for HybridSLI technology delivers 70%+ faster performance

It's clear here that the are aiming to provide you with as much as possible for as little as possible. Budget gaming, budget HD Multimedia and even budget Photoshop Acceleration are all rolled in to the feature set of one motherboard, keeping costs low but end user options open. But I want to expand a little on some of the features above.

The Hybrid PhysX feature is going to be quite appealing at first glance to many, however we are still waiting on a game to make 'proper' use of PhysX. Ok, that's fine, when that killer game comes along, I'll upgrade my graphics and use the onboard MGPU for PhysX. Unfortunately, as powerful as the 9x00 series MPGU's are, they are not powerhouses, and warn you that combined with anything over a 9500GT will likely degrade your frame rates. If you want PhysX, it's more likely you'll want more than a 9500GT in the first place. Also, for right now at least, Hybrid PhysX support can only be found under Vista 32bit.

Hybrid SLI or GeForce Boost also has caveats. Currently, only 8400GS and 8500GT cards support GeForce Boost. GeForce Boost technology only improves performance over the motherboard GPU when low- to –mid-level GPUs are used. High-end GPUs will not offer additional performance when GeForce Boost is enabled.

Dedicated Purevideo HD playback and offloading of H.264,VC-1 and MPEG2 HD is very welcome here. Blu-Ray drives are coming down in price daily, and now with no need for a separate (albeit cheap) graphics card to offload the work to as well, a very cheap HD multimedia machine can be built.

No matter how you look at the features, both positive and negative, there are plenty of them to provide you with the fullest possible all round end user experience without making a large dent in your wallet.

The MSI P7NGM Digital

mobo1 mobo1 mobo1

Our sample is an mATX sized board but don't let it's size fool you. This thing is overflowing with features. The board itself is based on a rather nice black PCB and has everything you could need and more all on-board. Around the CPU socket, we can see a 4 pin AUX connector, which does sit a little lower than we would like. Apart from this, the socket area is clear enough for the largest of cooling setups. The MGPU heatsink is a simple fanless object sporting the MSI logo and is quite unobtrusive. As we have seen of late, MSI have kept with the Dual Channel coloring setup for the DDR2 Dimm slots; 1 stick in a each slot of the same color. Next to these sit the 24pin main power, the FDD port and the single IDE port.

mobo2 

MSI have provided the full 6 SATA II ports and these are clustered under the ram slots. Bottom left, the traditional PCI slot area has a total of 4 slots; from the top, a single 1x PCIe slot, a single 16x PCIe 2.0 PEG slot and two PCI slots.

mobo3 mobo3

The I/O Panel is quite interesting. We have the usual twin PS/2 ports for mouse and keyboard. Next is a HDCP HDMI slot, and yes it is a full HDMI slot, with the board capable of outputting 7.1 Audio as well as 1080p Video. VGA and DVI ports sit just below. Four USB 2.0 port, a Firewire port and a GB NIC come next. Finally, 6 audio jacks for regular sound.



 
 
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