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MSI E7205 Master-L Workstation Motherboard Review
MSI E7205 Master-L Workstation Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
The GNB Max is a good board by its own right, but if your computing situation demands more of a heavy-hitter then todays review of the MSI E7205 Master-L could be just what the doctor ordered.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: MSI Apr 23 2003   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > MSI E7205 Master-L

MSI E7205 Master-L Workstation Motherboard Review

Before the i875 Canterwood chipset surfaced and brought in support for 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 processors, we had the Intel E7205 Granite Bay. Slated as a the new 'workhorse of workstation systems', this chipset has been received with much interest, though in limited numbers. PCstats.com tested out one such example in the form of the MSI GNB Max-FISR motherboard a few weeks ago, which while incorporating the E7205 chipset, is a purely desktop-oriented solution. The GNB Max is a good board by its own right, but if your computing situation demands more of a heavy-hitter then todays review of the MSI E7205 Master-L could be just what the doctor ordered.

Boasting the same dual channel DDR memory capabilities, the MSI E7205 Master-L is clearly a solution for workstation environments which demand a little more punch, like (drop-in) onboard SCSI for example. Outfitted with a MiniPCI socket, the board has a level of expandability not often seen out of the server, or SBC (Single Board Computer) environment.

Of course, the inclusion of the MiniPCI socket does not a workstation motherboard make. Other appealing features included on the MS9126 E7205 Master-L are a 50-watt 8X AGP slot, Gigabit Ethernet care of Intel's own RC82540EM chipset, 5.1 channel AC'97 codec-based audio, and five bright blue 32 bit PCI expansion slots.

For the MiniPCI slot, MSI currently sell optional cards which bring ATI Rage XL video, IEEE 1394 firewire or Ultra 160 SCSI into the fold as we have already mentioned. The unit we received for testing came with the Adaptec Ultra 160 SCSI card, but this is an optional extra and not included in the standard retail package.

msi e7205 master-l

Ships with the following:

  • MS9126
  • IDE ATA66/100 Cable
  • FDD Cable
  • Driver CD
  • User Manual
  • I/O Back Panel Bracket

The Intel E7205 chipset supports Socket m478 Pentium4 processors running at a 400/533 MHz FSB, including those chips with Hyper-Threading like the 3.06GHz model. Despite all the nifty onboard extra's the manufacturer has packed in for typical workstation requirements (ie data transfer, or low-level server situations), the biggest feature of the E7205 Master-L is still the dual channel DDR memory capability.

By running two sticks of PC2100 DDR memory in parallel (they must be the same size by the way), you can now satisfy the bandwidth requirements of a 533 MHz based Pentium4 - 4.2 GB/s. We are no longer slaves to PC1066/PC4200 RDRAM!

The E7205 Master-L is probably one of the biggest motherboards we have reviewed. It measures 25 cm x 30 cm so be prepared to use a large case like the Antec SX1040 or the Inwin Q500 to house it.

As you can see the E7205 Master-L still uses the standard bright red MSI coloured PCB. Like all MSI boards, the E7205 Master-L is very well laid out.

Nothing will really get in the way of anything else, including even the MiniPCI slot. The IDE/floppy and main ATX power connector are in the most ideal location to the right of the DIMM slots and the P4 power connector is positioned to the left of the CPU where it won't get in the way of anything.

Up close and personal...

Unlike most desktop motherboards which only have two or three fan headers, the E7205 Master-L has a total of five fan headers and they're all positioned very well. Two are located just above the AGP slot which can be easily used for exhaust fans or third party GPU cooling. MSI also places two fan headers on the far right hand side of the board are placed in a way that they would not interfere with a longer or full length videocards.

The E7205 Master-L uses a large passive heatsink on the E7205 Northbridge rather then use a smaller active heatsink which could potentially fail with time. The board is very well labelled, with even the positive and negative values on the front panel I/O indicated.As a workstation motherboard, the E7205 Master-L is pretty well equipped with an Intel Gigabit NIC, 5.1 soundcard and Ultra160 SCSI however if there's something missing you won't have any problems expanding the motherboard with its five PCI slots.

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Contents of Article: MSI E7205 Master-L
 Pg 1.  — MSI E7205 Master-L Workstation Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  What is MiniPCI?
 Pg 3.  Granite Bay Chipset and E7205 BIOS
 Pg 4.  System Specs and SysMark 2002 Benchmarks
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2002, Winbench 99
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: ScienceMark 2.0, Cinebench 4
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Maya 4, SPECviewPerf 7
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2003, HD Tach 2.61
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: PCMark2002, 3DMark2001SE
 Pg 10.  What's the Final Word?

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