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MSI 661FM3-V Motherboard Review

MSI 661FM3-V Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Price Check: $/£/€
Abstract: The MSI 661FM3-V Micro-ATX motherboard, which is based on the SIS 661FX chipset and SIS 964 Southbridge. This tiny board supports all 533/800MHz FSB Intel Socket 775 Pentium 4 processors.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Computer May 30 2005   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI Computer 661FM3-V

It's been a while since we've tested a micro ATX form factor motherboard. The boom in SFF (Small Form Factor) PCs with tiny motherboards already integrated into their cases has made the slightly-less tiny micro-ATX form factor boards and the smaller cases that fit them considerably rarer. When you consider that many motherboard manufacturers (including MSI) are now producing SFF PCs with their own custom motherboards, you can see why the micro-ATX board might soon be an endangered species.

On the other hand, there's a lot to be said for upgradability, one thing that SFF PCs really don't offer much of. It's good to see that there are at least a few micro-ATX products out there for users who want small cases but also want to keep their options open.

Today, PCstats is looking at MSI's 661FM3-V Micro-ATX motherboard, which is based on the SIS 661FX chipset and SIS 964 Southbridge. This tiny board supports all 533/800MHz FSB Intel Socket 775 Pentium 4 processors and can hold up to 2GB of DDR memory in its two slots. Notably, The SIS 661FX chipset does not support dual-channel memory. The 661FM3-V features integrated graphics courtesy of the SIS 'Mirage' chip, sharing up to 128MB of main memory by default, but fortunately also implements a full AGP8X videocard slot. Two PCI slots are present for expansion cards, as PCI Express is not yet supported by the SIS chipset. up to 4 IDE and 2 SATA devices can be added to the motherboard.

Additional integrated peripherals are sparse. Only a standard AC'97 audio codec and 10/100 LAN adaptor are included with this budget board. The chipset supports 8 USB 2.0 ports, though only four are present on the rear I/O panel. Headers for the other four are found on the motherboard itself. The MSI 661FM3-V's main feature is it's price, a meager $80 CDN ($63 US)! Let's see how much value we can squeeze out of this budget board.

MSI 661FM3-V Motherboard

Includes:

Motherboard manual, Driver CD, one Ultra/133 IDE cable, Floppy cable, one Serial ATA Cable, one Molex to Two Serial ATA adaptor, I/O Shield

As you can see, The MSI 661FM3-V is a teeny-tiny motherboard but it's laid out nicely enough. The only flaw we could point out would be the positioning of the floppy connector directly under the last PCI slot at the bottom of the board, but since this sin is shared by almost every motherboard manufacturer out there, it's not a huge deal.

The large passive heatsinks that MSI has used on the MOSFETs really stand out, especially when compared to the rather dinky passive sink cooling the chipset. The SIS 661FX chip doesn't seem to create much heat though, since this heatsink was barely more than warm throughout our testing. Overall, the MSI 661FM3-V has a nice quality feel to it which is reassuring in a budget board. The traditional ATX 20-pin power connector is used, so the board will be compatible with older ATX power supplies, provided they have the secondary 12V connector.

The included multi-language manual is well written and illustrated, but extremely sparse. It skips over some important things entirely, such as the nature of the integrated graphics solution. For that matter, the box has no information about this either. We had to check MSI's website to discover the specs for it. Interestingly, the box also lists the board as using the 'Intel 661FX + 964 chipset' which I'd imagine comes as news to both Intel and SIS.

Who is SIS?


It's easy to forget about the 'bit-part' players in chipset-land, including SIS and ALI and even ATI. These companies are not the first that come to mind when you are thinking about what chipset your next motherboard should have, but perhaps they should be.

Intel and nVidia have unquestionably dominated the chipset market over the last three or four years, and VIA, though not the power it once was, is still an important contributor. SIS, ALI and ATI, while never dominant, still have important roles to fill in the marketplace.

Budget prices, integrated features and sometimes refreshing innovation are all hallmarks of the lesser known chipset manufacturers. For proof look no further than the SIS 735 chipset, which successfully brought DDR and SDRAM compatibility together at a time when DDR was not looking like the sure thing it is today. Motherboards based on this chipset were some of the first to feature integrated LAN adaptors, and it enjoyed an active production life of more than four years, all at prices under $100! If you are upgrading on a budget, it can be worth it to look at the smaller names on the marquee.

Extras included with the board are also sparse as you'd expect with a budget motherboard. A single 80-pin IDE cable is included as well as one SATA cable and one floppy cable. The only other extra is a single Molex to twin-SATA power adaptor. I'd have liked to see an extra SATA cable or two, or even an extra USB bracket, but budget boards come with budget expectations.

The SIS 'Mirage' onboard video showed great 2D quality, but was not really viable as a 3D solution. It lacks hardware transform and lighting abilities so most modern 3D games will not run with it. This is probably a good thing, as demonstrated by the scores from the benchmarks we did get to run. If you are buying the MSI 661FM3-V as a budget integrated board for a cheap system though, the integrated video is more than adequate for any desktop task. The video system shares between 32-128MB of main memory.

© 2017 PCSTATS.com Next Page >

 

Contents of Article: MSI Computer 661FM3-V
 Pg 1.  — MSI 661FM3-V Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Overclocking the MSI 661FM3-V
 Pg 3.  Benchmarks: SYSmark 2004
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2005, Super Pi
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, Comanche 4
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 10.  Upgrade for an older system...

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