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MSI K7-Pro Motherboard Review

MSI K7-Pro Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The K7-pro represents MSI's second attempt at the AMD Athlon motherboard market. Did they get it right this time, or fumble trying?
 81% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Jun 02 2000   Bao Ly  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI K7-Pro

Going D-LED

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 memory
Boot Attempt
Operating System Booting

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 D-LED feature.

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 slot.

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.

Tweakers should 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 really are.

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...

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Contents of Article: MSI K7-Pro
 Pg 1.  MSI K7-Pro Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Features of the board
 Pg 3.  — Going D-LED
 Pg 4.  Overclocking
 Pg 5.  Overclocking by FSB
 Pg 6.  Gold Finger Device fun
 Pg 7.  Conclusion

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