MSI KT3 Ultra2

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MSI has had a good track record with their AMD motherboards over the past years. Consistently they have offered a good mix of performance and features that helps them fit into any PC enthusiasts domain. The last motherboard we reviewed from MSI here at was the KT3 Ultra-ARU that was also based on the KT333 chipset. Though there are some features changes made to the board, the layout and relative parts remained the same, so I will just reference that previous review for some of the following notes.
The processor socket has ample room around it for large heatsinks. MSI is anticipating the hardcore PC enthusiasts making the move to the KT333 line of boards and by giving the users room to play is the best thing to do. The KT333 chipset north bridge has a nice looking and effective heatsink and fan on it to try to increase stability on the motherboard and overclocking potential. The ATX power connector is to the left of the CPU socket, which is not my favorite spot for it because it makes the ATX power cord overlap the CPU fan in some cases. However, it is separated by some capacitors that help keep the distance enough for it not to be a big concern.

VIA KT333 Motherboard Roundup - Motherboards 17 There are three DIMM slots that support PC2100 and the newer DDR333/PC2700 memory. Because of MSI’s trend to release motherboards quickly after chipset releases you probably won’t see the 4th DIMM slot very often on their boards. The Abit motherboards (like the KR7A) have 4 DIMM slots but because of the engineering time it takes to perfect it, the board was delayed a few months. With memory in its current state of price and availability, having 3 slots should be more than adequate for most users.

The 2 standard IDE channels and the floppy channel are up about mid-height of the motherboard making them ideal for installation in a tall full tower case. The IDE RAID channels find their place at the bottom of the motherboard, which might cause a few isolated problems for people with the largest cases, but longer IDE cables are available. The slot configuration on the board is 5/0/1/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP/CNR). This a great configuration considering the features on the board that I will tell you about soon. So, overall, the physical layout of the MSI KT3 Ultra motherboard is very nice.

The MSI KT3 Ultra ARU model has one of the best list of features I have seen on a motherboard yet. First, MSI has included the Promise IDE RAID with the option to run the channels as just ATA133 channels instead of forcing you to setup RAID arrays. This is finally something that board manufacturer’s are catching on to! With the new VIA south bridge all of the IDE channels support ATA133 as well.

Starting off the extra features is support for the integrated USB 2.0 on the MSI KT3 Ultra ARU board. That’s right, you now can have USB 2.0 external drives like CD burners and hard drives without the hassle of buying an extra PCI card. It’s obvious that USB 2.0 is catching on more quickly than the USB 1.0 did and this is going to be a big trend in the PC world for a while I think. MSI is definitely looking out for their customer’s future compatibility by including USB 2.0. There are a total of 4 USB 2.0 ports and 4 USB 1.1 ports.

The second feature on the MSI board is the 6-channel audio. Powered by an AC’97 DirectSound codec, the 6-channel audio is pretty damn good and should please most users. The audio connectors are pretty robust allowing for six speakers (of course) as well as providing optical SPDIF and RCA connections.

Bluetooth support is also built into the board with the USB 2.0 bracket. However, because I don’t have any compatible devices, I wasn’t able to test this feature at all.

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