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MSI GNB MAX-FISR Granite Bay Motherboard Review

MSI GNB MAX-FISR Granite Bay Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The MSI GNB MAX-FISR is a workstation class motherboard, and one which is packed with its fair share of features & goodies.
 84% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Dec 19 2002   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI GNB MAX-FISR

Meet the E7205 Granite Bay Chipset

Dual DDR for the Pentium 4 was the final stake that killed the relationship between Intel and Rambus. Remember back two years ago when the Pentium 4 was first released, you could only use it with extremely expensive RDRAM?

The P4 wasn't selling well and Intel finally caved to public pressure and released the original i845 which was a SDRAM chipset for the Pentium 4. Obviously, we have heard enough performance horror stories about SDRAM + P4's and soon enough, the i845D evolved to use DDR and the rest is history.

However one problem with the i845 chipsets were they could never provide quite enough bandwidth to keep a P4 running at full potential, and this is where the E7205 Granite Bay chipset comes in.

"Why does Granite Bay only support PC2100 DDR and not PC2700?!?" I get that question a lot from readers. The reason behind this is that Granite Bay runs it's memory in parallel, thus doubling the bandwidth available to the processor from 2.1 GB/s to 4.2 GB/s.

4.2GB/s is exactly the bandwidth requirements a Pentium 4 running on 533 MHz FSB needs. Giving the processor more bandwidth is a waste of resources and will not net you any real performance gains. For example, consider what RDRAM or DDR RAM does for a Pentium III or DDR333 for 266 MHz based Athlon's!

Granite Bay is also the first Intel chipset to support 8x AGP.

8x AGP doubles the bandwidth available to the videocard from 1.06 GB/s (4x AGP) to 2.1 GB/s. This means that twice as much information can reach the videocard at any given moment, however so far we haven't seen much benefit for 8x AGP videocards as of yet.Because the GNB MAX is intended mainly for workstation use, MSI have opted to equip the board with an 8x AGP Pro slot.



As you can see 8x AGP was working just fine with the ATi Radeon 9700 Pro

The board we were sent for testing was an engineering sample, and so there was one minor issue which was some apparent undervolting in the BIOS. A P4 2.8 GHz processor at stock speeds requires a specified voltage of 1.525V, and according to the BIOS, the unit we tested was only supplying 1.45V or so. Of course since this test unit was an engineering sample and I'd expect MSI to have the bug fixed in their retail boards.

Serial ATA / IDE RAID Explained

IDE RAID 0 is not really considered a true RAID since there isn't any data redundancy. RAID 0 takes two drives of the same size/configuration and stripes them, meaning it makes one big drive out of two equal ones. This improves performance by cutting hard drive latency in half. Since the data is divided equally and written on two hard drives it also increases the data bandwidth by two. The reason it's not considered true RAID is because if one drive fails, all data is lost.

IDE RAID 1 on the other hand mirrors two drives of the same size, so in theory if one drive fails, the other will take over as the primary hard drive and the system can continue to operate normally. This is what is supposed to happen with a SCSI hard drive setup and it actually works pretty well there.

The IDE subsystem doesn't allow hard drives to be disconnected while the computer is still powered up and in use like SCSI can unless you have a special HDD tray. Generally, when one IDE drive fails the system usually locks up anyway. The data is safe since it's mirrored on the other drive which is the real benefit.

With IDE RAID 0+1, you need four hard drives of the same configuration/size. What RAID 0+1 does is stripes two sets of two hard drives, one set for a RAID 0 configuration and the other for RAID 1. What this does is offer the best of both worlds, the high performance of RAID 0, with 100% data redundancy of RAID 1. Hence the name RAID 0+1. The only downside would be the need for four identical hard drives.

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Contents of Article: MSI GNB MAX-FISR
 Pg 1.  MSI GNB MAX-FISR Granite Bay Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Looking Closer at the GNB MAX-FISR
 Pg 3.  — Meet the E7205 Granite Bay Chipset
 Pg 4.  The GNB MAX-FISR BIOS
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Bapco Sysmark 2002
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2002
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Winbench 99 2002
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: Sandra 2002
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: PCMark 2002
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: 3DMark 2001 / QIII Arena
 Pg 11.  Final words on the GNB MAX-FISR

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