AMD’s 690G/V Series Chipset Preview and Benchmarks

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The MSI K9AGM2 690G Motherboard

For our review we used an MSI K9AGM2 motherboard that is based on the 690G chipset with HDMI support. This micro-ATX motherboard is nicely laid out, but did have a couple issues that need to be mentioned.

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The MSI K9AGM2 is equipped with one full x16 PCI Express graphic slot, a single x1 PCI Express slot and two PCI 2.3 slots. Just two DDR2 memory slots are available, but they do support up to 4GB and we were able to run a 2GB x 2 kit of Kingston PC2-6400 memory with no problems. The Gigabit Ethernet is handled by a Realtek 8111B chip and the High Definition audio is done with a Realtek ALC8888 codec, which provides 8-channel audio.

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The AMD 690G chipset is passively cooled, which is great for multimedia computers or anyone that doesn’t want a million fans running. The heat sink doesn’t get that hot and to be honest the heat sink on the SB600 gets the hottest.

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Speaking of the SB600, there are four SATA II connections capable of RAID 0, 1 and 10 just to the right of the chipset. The yellow PATA port is just above the SATA headers and next to the 24-pin power header. All of the front panel connectections are color coded and labeled for a quick installation.

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The rear I/O panel offers PS/2 ports for legacy keyboard and mouse connections and a parallel port. There are four USB 2.0 ports and three additional USB headers on the motherboard that can bring the USB count up to ten ports if desired.  A IEEE 1394, ethernet and 8-channel audio headers can also be found on the I/O panel. To get the integrated graphics to your monitor there is a VGA connector as well as an HDMI port.

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The biggest gripe I had on the MSI K9AGM2 was actually found in the BIOS, as it comes with a very unique Trcd “feature” when it comes to setting the memory timings. The way it works is that MSI automatically increases the Trcd value by 1 (vs. SPD value). I was unable to run my Corsair PC2-8888C4 memory kit at 4-4-4-12 timings as I could not manually set the Trcd value even though options of 3, 4, 5 and 6 are present in the BIOS. Since the kit I was using was SPD set to 5-5-5-15 it was increasing the memory timings, which does reduce the memory performance a bit (but might improve memory compatibility / stability) in some cases. End users should have the option to override the Trcd value and I hope that MSI will fix this issue in their next BIOS release.

All of the performance numbers on this board were set to run 4-4-4-12, but were actually at 4-6-4-12 due to this stability feature.

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