The MSI K9A2 CF cannot guarantee its reliability with 125W AMD CPUs.
A little while ago it was brought to our attention that MSI had removed support for 125W TDP CPUs like the AMD Athlon 64 6000+, 6400+ and older FX-62 for the K9A2 CF on its website
This was strange to us as we had used the 125W model of the 6000+ in our review of the board
, where the K9A2 CF didn't blink once---even under heavy load over a 24 hour period---and the result was that we gave the board a value award because it impressed us so much, but why now the sudden change?
We checked around and at the same time were sent more questions about the use of these hot processors - we found while the board was able to use them and was perfectly stable in our stress test, there were some reports that this board had failed when using the same processors.
One customer on Newegg complained that his K9A2 CF had actually set itself alight after being left to run Folding@Home. Take a "customer review" as you will - it doesn't take into account dust build up, ambient temperatures, airflow, as well as CPU cooling and use of thermal paste, but it still appears to be potentially very serious.
So serious in fact that MSI has removed support for the CPUs altogether. When we asked MSI about the specific problem, we were told that "[MSI] cannot guarantee the long-term durability of using a 125W part in the two year warranty"
. We were also told that "The original power design on K9A2 CF is limited to AM2's 89W and AM2+'s 95W [specification]"
Considering the warranty is an industry minimum, the extra heat and greater power draw of 125W CPUs make the power regulation components hotter and the result is that the board can fail far sooner, as there's both no additional cooling for the PWMs and/or the components used are less capable (therefore likely cheaper).
We appreciate the time MSI took to answer our questions but in our opinion, despite the fact this is an inexpensive motherboard and therefore "feature light", it seems a design screw-up on MSI's part. These aren't some special CPUs introduced after
the board was launched, they are inexpensive, performance-orientated Athlon 64 X2 retail
CPUs that have been available for months
before this board became available - that's entirely unacceptable in our opinion.
In addition an end user can't upgrade to either future Phenom 9700 and 9900 processors, as they also have 125W TDPs, not to mention overclocking: of all, this is a relatively unquantifiable factor depending on voltage and clock speed.
In light of all this response and evidence, our current recommendation is that you look elsewhere for an AMD 790X motherboard, at least until MSI revisits this board. A new revision would be easier, but the problem is how do you tell which revision an e-tailor stocks if the name is the same?
Right now that limits you to the only other AMD 790X board on the market: the Gigabyte GA-790X-DS4
, which currently lists compatibility with every retail AMD AM2(+) CPU being sold today, however it is also more expensive.
Do you own an MSI K9A2 CF or even a Gigabyte GA-790X-DS4 - we're keen to know your experiences! Or if you have any other thoughts, please let us know in the forums