Review Index:

ECS KA3 MVP and MSI K9A Platinum: XPress 3200 Chipset

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: General

Introduction and Specifications


With AMD's release of the AM2 processor socket in May of this year, all the motherboard and chipset vendors were forced to migrate to the new platform in order to cash in on the new processor upgrades that would inevitably come.  NVIDIA chose to do this with a new chipset series, the nForce 590 and 570, which we covered here.  ATI went the other route, simply moving their same chipset technology over with a new processor socket plugged into it. 

There is no disadvantage to ATI going about their AM2 product line up in this way; we have already reviewed and looked at the Radeon XPress 3200 chipset and found it to be a worthy enthusiast class product.  However, motherboard vendors have been apprehensive in making and marketing solutions based on this chipset as the nForce boards were just flat out selling better.  A few months now after the AM2 launch from AMD, we have two motherboards in house that use the XPress 3200 chipset that are readily available on the market.

But are either of them worthy of your money?  In this article we'll look at both motherboards individually and then compare them side-by-side for performance and let you know which, if either, is the better deal.

ECS KA3-MVP Specifications (from


Socket AM2 with AMD Athlon 64 FX/ Athlon 64/ Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core/ Sempron processor

Support for 64-bit extended operating systems

Support transfer rate of 2000/1600/1200/800/400 mega-transfers per second.

Highly overclockable and robust Hypertransport interface


ATI® CrossFire Xpress 3200

North Bridge: ATI® RD580

South Bridge: ATI® SB600


Dual-channel DDR2 memory architecture

4 x 240-pin DDR2 DIMM socket support up to 32GB

Support DDR2 800/667/533/400 DDR2 SDRAM


2 x PCI Express x16 slots

1 x PCI Express x1 slot

2 x PCI slots


Supported by SB600

-- 2 x Ultra DMA133/100/66/33 device

-- 4 x Serial ATA2 devices

-- RAID0, RAID1, RAID10 configuration

Supported by JMB363

-- 2 x Ultra DMA133/100/66 devices

-- 2 x Serial ATA2 devices

-- RAID0, RAID1& RAID 0+1 configuration

-- Support NCQ&eSATA & Hot plug&Port Multiplier


Realtek ALC883 8-channel audio CODEC

IEEE 1394a

VIA® VT6308P support 2 x IEEE1394a ports


Agere E1310I Gigabit LAN controller

Realtek 8100C 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet controller


1 x PS/2 keyboard & PS/2 mouse connectors

4 x USB ports

2 x RJ45 LAN connectors

1 x Serial port (COM1)

1 x Audio port (Line-in,4x Line-out, Mic_in)

2 x Digital SPDIF (Optical & Coaxial) out


1 x 24-pin ATX Power Supply connector

1 x 4-pin ATX 12V connector

1 x Auxiliary 4-pin +12V connector

2 x IDE connectors

1 x FDD connector

6 x Serial ATA connectors

1 x Speaker header

1 x IrDA for SIR header

2 x 1394a headers

3 x USB 2.0 headers support additional 6 USB ports

1 x Front panel switch/LED header

1 x Front panel audio header

CD in header

1 x 26-pin LPT header

CPU / Chassis FAN headers

1x CPUFAN/1x SYSFAN/3x CASFAN connectors


Award BIOS with 4Mb Flash ROM

Supports Plug and Play 1.0A, APM 1.2, Multi Boot, DMI

Supports ACPI revision 1.0 specification


ATX Size 305mm*244mm

MSI K9A Platinum Specifications (from


• Supports 64-bit AMD® Athlon™ 64 / Athlon 64FX / Athlon 64 X2 processor (Socket AM2)
• Supports Athlon 64 CPU: 3500+, 3800+
• Supports Athlon 64FX CPU: FX-62
• Supports Athlon 64 X2 CPU: 3800+, 4000+, 4200, 4400+, 4600+, 4800+, 5000+, 5200+

• ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 (RD580) Chipset
- HyperTransport connection to AMD K8 Athlon 64 processor
- HyperTransport supporting speed up to 1GHz (2000mt/s)
- Supports 2 PCI-E x 16
• ATI SB600 Chipset
- Supports SATAII controllers for four drives
- Supports single channel Ultra DMA 66/100/133 master mode EIDE controller
- ACPI & PC2001 compliant enhanced power managment
- Supports Hi-Speed (USB2.0) controller 480 mbsec transfer rate up to 10 ports
Main Memory

Supports 4 240-pin DDR2 SDRAMs up to 8GB memory size
• Supports Dual Channel DDR2 533/667/800 DDR2 SDRAM
• Supports 1.8v DDR2 SDRAM DIMM
Due to the High Performance Memory design, motherboards or system configurations may or may not operate smoothly at the JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) standard settings (BIOS Default on the motherboard) such as DDR2 voltage, memory speeds and memory timing. Please confirm and adjust your memory setting in the BIOS accordingly for better system stability.
Example: Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 PC-6400 operates at 2.0V, 4-4-4-12.
For more information about specification of high performance memory modules, please check with your Memory Manufactures for more details.

• Two PCI Express X16 , support ATI CrossFire Technology (PCI Express Bus Specification v1.0a compliant)
• Two PCI Express X1 slot
• Supports two 32-bit Master 3.3v/5v PCI Bus slots

• An IDE controller on the ATI SB600 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA133/100/66 operation modes.
- Can connect up to 2 IDE devices
• SB600 supports 4 SATA II ports (SATA1-4). Transfer rate is up to 300MB/s.
- Supports up to 4 SATA
- RAID 0 or 1, 0+1, JBOD is supported
- RAID function work w/ SATA HDDs

• The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
• The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface (DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.
• Supports boot from LAN, USB Device 1.1 & 2.0 and SATA HDD

• 8 Channel software audio codec Realtek ALC883
• Compliance with Azalia v1.0 spec.
• Flexible 8-channel audio with jack sensing

• Realtek® 8110SC & 8111B LAN chip
- Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
- Compliance with PCI v2.3
- Supports ACPI Power Management

• Support up to 2 IEEE 1394 ports (rear x 1 / front x 1)
• Transfer rate up to 400 mbps.
On-Board Peripherals

- 1 floppy port supports 1 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes
- 1 serial port
- 1 parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
- 1 audio jack (5-in-1), coaxial/fibre SPDIF out
- 10 USB 2.0 ports (Rear x 4 / Front x 6)
- 2 RJ45 LAN jack
- 1 D-Bracket 2 pinheader
- 2 IEEE 1394 a connectors (Rear x 1/ Front x 1)
- 1 CD-in pinheader
- 1 IrDA pinheader
  12 in (L) x 9.64 in(W) ATX Form Factor

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