Perhaps the most unique feature of the K7 Pro is the inclusion of MSI's D-LED
diagnostic function. The D-LED feature simplifies the trouble-shooting process.
The following highlights some of the more important messages:
||System Power is ON|
||Memory detection test|
||Testing Base and Extended
Naturally if none of the lights flash on, then you've got a dead board.
Because the motherboard was so stable, I didn't have any use for the D-LED
feature. To be honest with you, this feature is simply a nicety to an
experienced user, and a life saver for a 'newbie' user. Personally if I had a
choice, I'd save a few bucks and get a version of the motherboard without the
The physical layout of the K7 Pro, is reasonably well thought out. There is
one AGP slot (1X, and 2X compatible) as well as 6 bus mastering PCI slots, and
one legacy ISA slot. The IDE connectors are colour coded and clearly labelled
(always a plus.) Unfortunately, the primary IDE connector is placed behind the
first 3 PCI slots, and could negate the use of full length PCI cards in those
three slots. Additionally, the primary IDE connector, will restrict air flow
(from a front case fan) in a small to medium sized case.
As per the PC-99 spec, the external ports are also colour coded to aid users
in the arduous task of installing a keyboard and mouse.
While there are three fan headers, they are placed sporadically on the
motherboard, one header is placed behind the third dimm slot, the second header
is placed adjacent to the AGP slot, and the last one is placed adjacent to the
primary IDE connector. Motherboard makers normally place two fan headers side by
side, in the vicinity of the CPU (for dual fan freaks!)
The placement of the ATX power connector puts it directly infront of the CPU heatsink, which may
hinder the installation of big CPU coolers as It sits 60mm away from the CPU
The transistors on the motheboard are not too impressive, while they have not
hindered stability, the cheap heatsinks on them, make the board look bush
league, almost as bad as the FIC SD-11. Thankfully there aren't too many of them
on the board (there are four of them located adjacent to the Slot A connector).
I know that this is not a fashion show, but the cheap transistors make it look
as if MSI was cutting corners.
take note that the heatsink covering the NorthBridge chip, can be easily
removed, and replaced by a TennMaxx Cooler to help keep it cool. In some cases,
a cooler Northbridge can lead to better overclocking. Personally, I feel that motherboard makers should
at least apply a tiny dab of heatsink compound to the underside of the heatsink prior
to installing it onto the NorthBridge.
MSI decided to skip on the AMR (Audio Modem Riser) slot and saved some
precious board space to facilitate the addition of an extra PCI slot, all the
while permitting a legacy ISA slot to be included.
There is a thermal sensor that is placed approximately
1.5 CM away from Slot A connector. The placement of the thermal sensor is an ok idea, but the temperature readouts
are usually off by around 5 degrees C. With a thermal diode attached to
the CPU core, the temperature is 35C, however the motherboard only registers 26C.
This could lead to fals impressions of overclocked processors runnig cooler then they
Finally there is a Wake on Lan header, which is placed
near the bottom of the motherboard. I've never used the WOL header, I think that it's absolutely useless for 90% of
home computer users. At least 90% of people will attempt to overclock,
so let's see how it fairs...