Motherboard: MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU :: Features

03-06-2002 · Category: Motherboards

By Doc Overclock

MSI KT3 Features
Board Revision1.0
BIOS Version5.1 2002-02-28
Default Clock Speed (MHz)1667
North BridgeVIA KT333 VT8367
South BridgeVIA VT8233A
Number of PCI slots5
Memory typeDDR266/300/333
Number of memory slots3
Maximum Memory (GB)3
Universal AGP support *N/A
AGP Pro SupportN/A
Number of Physical USB 1.1 ports **4
Number of Physical USB 2.0 ports **4
Active Cooling on ChipsetYES
Adjustable AGP VoltageYES
Adjustable Memory voltageYES
Southbridge UDMA 133 SupportYES
IDE or RAID Controller other than SouthbridgePromise PDC20276 UDMA133 RAID
Auto speed-down/shutdown on fan failureN/A
Auto speed-down/shutdown on heat alarmN/A
Onboard SoundRealtek ALC-650
Onboard LANN/A
* Voltage and Physical support for previous generation of AGP
** Not just pin headers onboard

MSI KT3 Scores
Stability and Compatibility25|25
Package & Support10|10

The KT3 is a standard ATX form factor board that sizes in at 30.4cmX 23.5cm and should fit in any standard case other than micro ATX. Based on the new KT333 chipset from VIA it offers little difference other than the support of PC2700/DDR333 SDRAM, which is really not a very big leap.

You do get increased performance from the KT333 chipset. It comes in the form of 2.7GB/sec memory bandwidth transfers, the peak performance is 25% faster than the previous KT266A chipset. The only other substantial difference is the ability to support ATA133, which is the latest standard in IDE family. So although not a lot of difference is to be found there are some small but significant changes.

The KT3 has an adjustable 100/133/166MHz FSB and can work well with all versions of the current AMD line of CPUs. You can use a slower speed 600MHz Duron running at a modest 100MHz FSB all the way to the latest XP 2000+ running at a 133MHz FSB. The AMD XP 2100+ is right around the corner and MSI will have a BIOS flash to address this and recognize the new CPU very soon.

There are many feature options available to the user on the KT3. We begin with five PCI slots, one 4X AGP port and a CNR riser for your inline goodies along with three available 184-pin DIMM slots for utilizing up to 3GB of PC2700/DDR333 SDRAM. This amount of RAM support could come in handy when rendering large 3D images or working with memory intensive graphics files.

You get some very nice ATA features since the motherboard has both a set of ATA controllers namely IDE channels 1-2 and also a Promise ATA133 RAID controller in the form of IDE channels 3-4. This gives the user maximum flexibility in their system configuration and allows the option of using up to eight IDE devices simultaneously for maximum expandability.

Keep in mind though that the on-board RAID controller only works with hard drives and CD players Zip drives and the like will not be detected on channels 3-4. You also must use two identical drives in your RAID array configuration, as two different drives will not function properly. Niso, is currently working on a basic how to for home RAID configurations that should be out later this month.

Also available are 4 USB 1.1 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports for maximum USB support along with excellent onboard sound in the form of the Realtek ALC-650 6 channel digital audio source, which is a variable on the AC97 Codec. Included in the box is a SPDIF sound bracket that allows for digital sound connections to be used for the best and clearest sound quality.

This is an excellent audio source and can work about as well as the C-Media solutions found on some of the higher end boards. Not quite as good as an Audigy card from Creative labs but it is no slacker either. It works well in both games and decoding and playing MP3 files. Most people will be more than satisfied with the audio performance of the onboard sound of the KT3.

The overall layout is done quite well and the board comes with an attached North Bridge heatsink and fan for better overclocking results. Having the North Bridge cooled is an added plus on the KT3. The memory chips are still blocked by the VGA card and that is the only real downside to the layout. The power supply connector and motherboard fan headers are placed in a good location also.

With MSI you get many support options via their Live BIOS and Live driver update features that allow you to upgrade your MSI motherboards BIOS and system drivers while online and connected to the MSI website. This works well on all of their boards but the i845D chipset series that seemed to have some problems. For beginners who have adequate Internet service this can be a very helpful option.

The last but not least feature to talk about here is the on-board Bluetooth connector for the wireless environment that is really a great option to have. The only drawback to this feature is that the USB 2.0 and the Bluetooth controller share the same resources so you must disable the USB function to actively use the Bluetooth connector. Not a terrible thing but it would be great to have the availability of both.

That wraps it up on the features end of things although I was expecting a bit more. The press release claimed the KT3 would feature the latest thermal shutdown technology that shuts down the system when the CPU sends out a signal telling the motherboard its too hot and needs to be shut down. I looked in the BIOS and in the manual but I could not find this feature listed. Oh well onward to the installation and testing phase.