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MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR KT400 Motherboard Review

MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR KT400 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Looking around the cramped PCB on the MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR, we can say it's easily the most equipped motherboard we've ever tested!
 86% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Sep 26 2002   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR

The VIA KT400 chipset: ahead of the pack?

The KT400 has been drastically improved from the KT333 chipset to support AGP 8x compatible videocards, "un"official DDR400 compatibility and and undergone an overhaul called V-link.

V-link is the spiffy name used to describe the communications link between the northbridge and southbridge, and this directly relates to yet another 8x nomenclature. KT4000 features an improved rate of AGP Texture transfer, increasing from 4x (1.06 GB/s) to 8x (2.1 GB/s).

Perhaps with more bandwidth available, videocard manufacturers will try and take advantage of AGP Texturing more. We were able to get an ECS AG400 (Xabre400) to run at 8x AGP properly, but the BIOS would not allow us to change the AGP rate to anything else.

As you can see, the V-Link that connects the KT400 Northbridge to the VT8235 Southbridge runs at 8x V-Link and has an actual transfer rate of 533 MB/s - doubled from the old transfer rate of 266MB/s for the old 4x V-Link found in KT266A, and KT333 chipsets.

With bandwidth hungry devices such as IEEE 1394 (Firewire), USB 2.0 and IDE RAID it was possible to saturate the original V-Link data bus (266 MB/s) between the Northbridge and Southbridge. To solve this potential problem, VIA has doubled the bandwidth between them to 533 MB/s which should be more then enough to satisfy even the most well equipped computers.

In regards to memory, VIA can't adhere to a standard which doesn't yet exist, and that's the official reason why the VIA KT400 does support DDR400 (aka PC3200) RAM. Unofficially though, there have been rumors floating around the web that VIA may be having problems getting the KT400 chipset to run properly with DDR400 compatible memory.

We encountered a few problems getting a stick of 256MB Corsair XMS3200 CAS 2 to run at 400 MHz in our tests. The system would simply lock up at POST.

Lowering the CAS Latency to 2.5 allowed the system to run flawlessly so this may not be the fault of the motherboard. As there is no likely sight of an official JEDEC DDR400 (aka PC3200) standard on the horizon, all current DDR400 DIMM's on the market are really only DDR333 DIMM's which are overclocked and may have compatibility problems with certain motherboards/chipsets.

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Contents of Article: MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR
 Pg 1.  MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR KT400 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — The VIA KT400 chipset: ahead of the pack?
 Pg 3.  Serial ATA, 10/1000, IDE RAID
 Pg 4.  Inside the KT400 BIOS
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Sysmark 2002, Winstone
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winbench, Sandra 2002
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: PCMark 2002, 3DMark 2001SE
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: QIII Arena and Conclusions

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