MSI K7T Pro2 Motherboard

Nov 25th, 2000 | By

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MSI K7T Pro2 Motherboard


Date
: 11/25/00 – 06:46:08 PM

Author
:

Category
: Motherboard

Manufactor: MSI

Price: $160

Thanks to MPL for supplying us with this motherboard!

Introduction

It all happened about a year ago. I got myself an Athlon 600 (the old SlotA series), and of course I was looking for a good motherboard to go along with it. Because my computer store did not have the famous ABIT KA7 or the ASUS K7V in stock, I decided to take a risk and buy the MSI K7TPro. It was a pleasant experience and from that moment on, MSI was a synonym for stability, features, and a good price–in my books.

Approximately one year later, MSI has a sequel ready for the K7T Pro. This time the board is not intended for SlotA CPUs, since that packaging is closing in on obscurity, but instead it is aimed at the newest socketA platform, used by AMD’s Duron and Athlon ‘Thunderbird’ CPUs. MSI named their newest creation K7T Pro2 (MS-6330). Not very original, but hey, i’ll take it.

Enough blabbering from me, let’s get on with the show, and take a closer look to see if the K7T Pro2 is a worthy successor.

Specifications

For those who care, here’s the entire specs list from MSI:

CPU

Socket A for AMD(R) DuronTM /AthlonTM processor.
Supports 600MHz, 650MHz, 700MHz or higher processor

Chipset

VIA(R)KT133chipset. (552 BGA)

– FSB @200MHz

– AGP 4x and PCI Advanced high performance memory controller

– Supports PC100/133 SDRAM, & VCM technology

VIA(R)VT686A chipset. (352 BGA)

– Enhanced Power Management Features

– Integrated Super I/O (FDC, LPT, COM 1/2, and IR)

– Dual bus Master IDE Ultra DMA33/66

– DirectSound AC’97 Audio

– ACPI

Clock Generator

100MHz clocks are supported. (200MHz Internal System Bus)

Main Memory

Supports six memory banks using three 168-pin unbuffered DIMM.

Supports a maximum memory size of 1.5GB (32M x 8).

Supports 3.3v SDRAM DIMM.

Slots

One AGP(Accelerated Graphics Port) slot.

– AGP specification compliant

– Supports AGP 2.0 1x/2x/4x

One CNR(Communication Network Riser) slot.

Six 32-bit Master PCI Bus slots(wherein one shared slot can be used as PCI or ISA(optional)) .

Supports 3.3v/5v PCI bus Interface.

On-Board IDE

An IDE controller on the VIA(R) VT686A Chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA 33/66 operation modes.
Can connect up to four IDE devices.

Audio

Chip Integrated

– DirectSound AC’97 Audio

On-Board Peripherals

On-Board Peripherals include:

– 1 Floppy port supports 2 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes.

– 2 Serial ports (COMA + COM B) or 1 serial port with 1 VGA port

– 1 Parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode

– 4 USB ports (2 Rear Connectors/USB Front Pin Header)

– 1 IrDA connector for SIR/CIR/ASKIR/HPSIR.

– 1 Audio/Game port

BIOS

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.

Dimension

ATX Form Factor: 30.4cm x 20.3cm

Mounting

6 mounting holes

Special Features

Fuzzy Logic 2

Live BIOS

Nothing out of the ordinary here, unless maybe the Live BIOS, Smart D-LED and
their vocal BIOS. What are these features, and what do they mean to you? Here you go.

The Live BIOS is a nice feature that lets you update the BIOS from within Windows. You just run the flash program and it will automatically download the correct bios revision and flash it onto your motherboard.

The Smart D-LED is something you’ve probably read about before. It is a very cool and handy error detection system that tells you exactly what’s wrong with your computer. For example, if the two outer LED’s are red and the two inner LED’s are green, this means there is a problem with your CPU. If everything goes
ok, you should see four green LED’s.

The newest addition they’ve made is the vocal BIOS. The vocal bios is actually a computer voice that tells you what the problem is. This is pretty cool
because you don’t have to open up your computer case to find out what’s wrong, you can just listen to it. The language can be set to English or Chinese with a jumper. Unfortunately MSI forgot the use a powerful speaker, because when you run a FOP38 with a very loud Delta fan spinning at 7000 rpm along with some other case cooling, you will not be able to hear what the voice is trying to tell you. The idea is very nice, but there is still some work left for MSI to do on this matter. It would also be cool to be able to disable the voice because after 10 reboots it starts getting on your nerves ;).

The K7T Pro2 comes in two versions: one with the VIA VT686A chipset and one with the VIA VT686B chipset. The difference between the two is the lack of UDMA100 in the A version (the one I tested). MSI probably should have put UDMA100 on all motherboards, because the small price advantage it gets you now will not be worth it in the future when you get some nice UDMA capable hard drives (like my IBM).

The last thing I want to go on about is the lack of fan headers! MSI included only 2 fan headers on the motherboard. In a time where multiple fanned coolers
are no rarity and where case coolers are the most normal thing around, this is a setback. Of course you can always connect your fans to a molex connector,
but still, MSI should have put 3 or even 4 fan headers on the board.

The BIOS

The K7T Pro2 features an Award BIOS just like the one we know from most other boards. The BIOS has the usual options to set up the date, the hard drivers,
the ram settings, …

The most interesting part is the one where we can adjust the cpu’s multiplier and adjust the cpu core voltage. Unfortunately I found some bad things here
too. I was using an unlocked Duron 800 to test this motherboard. As we all know, it is better to run your cpu at 7.5x133MHz instead of 10x100MHz. The reason for this is that your RAM will run at a higher speed in the first setting, resulting in a better memory throughput. Sadly, this is not an option on this board. You can not put your multiplier lower then the default value. This meant that 8.0x was the lowest setting I could use :(.

In order to overclock your cpu, most people have to up the core voltage a notch or two. Again, this is a part where the MSI falls behind a bit from the
competition. It would not let me up the voltage past 1.800v, which equals an increase of +0.2v. I understand MSI set this restriction to prohibit not so
talented overclockers from burn up their CPUs. For us hardcore overclockers, however, this is a fairly important limitation.
Of course, we can get around this by penciling some of the L7 bridges on the cpu. That way the motherboard will think 1.75v (or whatever you like) is the
default voltage, and we will be able to set the voltage as high as 1.95v. Maybe MSI can fix this little ‘bug’ in a BIOS update.

Overclocking

For this setup, we used AMD’s latest Duron cpu running along at 800MHz (gracefully supplied to us by MPL. We unlocked this little puppy by penciling the L1 bridges, which let us choose whatever multiplier we wanted (starting at 8x and up because of motherboard limitations). I got the Duron stable at 900MHz / 1.800v with a Globalwin FOP38 cooler attached to it. I might have gotten more out of the CPU if I had been able to give more voltage to it, but since the motherboard does not support this, I decided against penciling the L7 bridges.

Benchmarking

System Setup

- MSI K7T Pro2 motherboard

- AMD Duron 800MHz @ 910MHz

- 2x64MB pc100 RAM

- ABIT Siluro Geforce MX

- Western Digital UDMA100 7200rpm 20GB hard drive

- Detonator 7.17 drivers + VIA 4.25a Service Pack

Now lets take a look at what all this overclocking got us ok?

Sisoft Sandra Pro CPU Benchmark

Sisoft Sandra Pro Multimedia Benchmark

Sisoft Sandra Pro Memory Benchmark

3D Mark 2000 v1.1 Benchmark

CPU Mark 99

FPU Mark 99

Bundled Software

MSI has included several interesting programs with the K7T Pro2, so let’s take a look at the most interesting ones shall we?

MSI PC Alert III

This nifty program reports the cpu / mobo temperature to you so you will never have to worry about overheating your cpu or anything ;). Personally I like motherboard monitor way better, but still it is a nice feature.

MSI 3D Turbo 2000

This program is made to let you alter several VGA adjustements. You can make virtual desktops, overclock your videocard, etc.

MSI Live BIOS

Live BIOS is a cool program that checks for a new version of the BIOS, and if you want, it will download and install it for you.
I like to do all this stuff myself, but for people who are not so skilled with flashing the BIOS, this utility is
a very welcome tool.

Trend PC-Cilin 2000

They also include a nice virus scanner, which isn’t the best one out there, but still, it is better then nothing, and it comes free of charge with the mobo so do not complain ;).

EZ Logo

This is the best program on the cd if you ask me. It lets you design a new logo to put in the BIOS when you boot. This lets you customize your entire computer without the risk of destroying your motherboard! Very cool indeed.

Soft Cooler

Soft Cooler turns off your cpu when you are not using it. This will lower the temperature of the cpu by several degrees.
Personally I don’t like these programs because they don’t give you much more stability, because when you play games the cpu is occupied 100%, so it won’t do any good.

Here are some pics of the MSI next to the ABIT.

Conclusion

MSI did a great job with the K7T Pro2, but the board is not the best one you can get if you are into overclocking. If you want overclocking, there is only one board out there, the ABIT KT7 (RAID). And since ASUS has implemented multiplier adjustement in the BIOS with its latest BIOS update, the A7V should be pretty good as well.
There are some drawbacks on the MSI, but the board remained stable with everything we threw at it, and MSI also includes a lot of interesting tools.

Good

- Rockstable

- Bundled software

- Price

Bad

- Not good for overclocking

- Not enough memory tweaks in BIOS

- Lack of UDMA100 (you need to buy the more expensive version if you want UDMA100)

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