MSI K9A2 CF review

Price when reviewed

The K9A2 CF is marketed as an affordable gaming motherboard. The CF in the name stands for CrossFire, and in fact the board supports not only CrossFire, but the new CrossFire X, which means it’s able to drive two dual-GPU Radeon HD 3870 X2 cards at once. Unfortunately, a tight budget has led to some corner-cutting on bandwidth: plug in a pair of graphics cards and both PCI Express slots drop to 8x speed.

MSI K9A2 CF review

This disappointment aside, the K9A2 CF is a pretty standard AMD motherboard. All the important features are present, although none of them in particularly generous quantities. It provides just four rear USB ports and four SATA channels, while RAID is limited to modes 0, 1 and 10. The manual describes eSATA and FireWire as “optional” – neither was present on our sample board. Sadly, despite this sparse feature set, power consumption when idle was high at 106W.

The BIOS is, at least, well equipped, enabling you to adjust all the usual frequencies and tweak the CPU multiplier. A simple automatic overclocking feature is also provided: speed increases are described by ranks, from Private – which offers a mere 1% speed increase – up to a Commander-level 15% boost. You don’t get any whizzy Windows-based tools, though, as you do with the Gigabyte boards.

The K9A2 CF does an adequate job, but we’d be hard pushed to recommend it to anyone. If you’re determined to experience CrossFire, we’d suggest investing a little extra money in a motherboard that can really make the most of it. Otherwise, the Gigabyte GA-EP35C-DS3R will give you more bang for your buck.


Motherboard form factorATX
Motherboard integrated graphicsno


Processor/platform brand (manufacturer)AMD
Processor socketAM2+
Motherboard form factorATX
Memory typeDDR2
Multi-GPU supportyes


Motherboard chipsetAMD 790X
Number of Ethernet adapters1
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
Audio chipsetRealtek ALC888

Onboard Connectors

CPU power connector type4-pin
Main power connectorATX 24-pin
Memory sockets total4
Internal SATA connectors4
Internal PATA connectors1
Internal floppy connectors1
Conventional PCI slots total2
PCI-E x16 slots total1
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots total1

Rear ports

PS/2 connectors2
USB ports (downstream)4
FireWire ports0
eSATA ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks6
Parallel ports0
9-pin serial ports1
Extra port backplane bracket ports0


SATA cables supplied1
Molex to SATA adaters supplied1
IDE cables supplied1
Floppy cables supplied1

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