MSI K7T266 Pro DDR - HotHardware

MSI K7T266 Pro DDR

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The MSI K7T266 Pro DDR Socket A Monster
Misguided? or Misunderstood?...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 14, 2001

With the influx of DDR memory into the market place, came a craving for a high performing chipset to exploit the increased bandwidth offered by this new memory type. AMD was first to introduce a DDR chipset for the Athlon.   However, the chipset wasn't widely available and was priced slightly higher than expected. ALi then jumped into the fray with their DDR enabled MaGiK1 chipset. The MaGiK1 was quickly adopted by some major motherboard OEMs and has met with some success. Many users however chose to wait for VIA's DDR offering, before spending their hard earned money on a new motherboard.

VIA announced their KT266 chipset and power users began chomping at the bit. In the last couple of years, VIA has been on a roll, releasing inexpensive, yet high performing chipsets.  This time around, months went by without seeing any products based on the KT266 chipset. Rumors circulated that the KT266 was not stable, or was performing far lower than expected. Then MSI's K7T266 Pro was introduced but all was not well.

A few well respected sites quickly reviewed the MSI K7T266 Pro, but their findings were not consistent. Some sites resorted to soldering resistors to different locations in an effort to realize the full potential of the KT266 chipset, while others argued that a simple BIOS update was all that was needed for maximum performance. During this "storm" of information we got our hands on a retail MSI K7T266 Pro but we decided to wait until the dust settled and the BIOS and drivers matured before we passed judgment. We updated our K7T266 Pro to the recently released 1.20 BIOS, mounted our 1GHz AXIA T-Bird, installed the Via 4-in-1 4.32s and let her rip.  Come see what we found out.
 

Specifications / Features of the MSI K7T266 Pro
DDR for the Masses?


Click any Image for an Enlarged view...
 

CPU
  • Socket A for AMD(R) Athlon? / Duron? 600MHz - 1.4GHz

Chipset

  • VIA(R) Apollo KT266 chipset / VT8233
  • VIA(R) VT8366 chipset. (552 BGA)

FSB

  • 200 / 266MHz

Memory

  • 184-pin DDR-DIMM x3
  • Maximum 3GB

Slots

  • AGP x1 or AGP Pro x1(only for K7T266 Por-R)
  • CNR x1
  • PCI x5

Audio / Video

  • Audio Chip Integrated
  • AGP 4x and PCI Advanced high performance memory Controller

On-Board IDE

  • Ultra DMA 33 / 66 / 100

Special Features

  • D-LEDTM
  • Fuzzy Logic 3
  • Live BIOS

VIA(R) VT8233 chipset. (376 BGA)

  • High Bandwidth Vlink Client controller
  • Integrated Faster Ethernet LPC (Optional CNR card support)
  • Integrated Hardware Sound Blaster / Direct Sound AC'97 audio
  • Ultra DMA 33/66/100 master mode PCI EIDE controller
  • ACPI

Slots

  • One CNR (Communication Network Riser).
  • One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) or AGP Pro slot.  Note : AGP Pro only for K7T266 Pro-R
  • AGP specifcation compliant.
  • Support AGP 2.0 1x/2x/4x
  • Five 32-bit Master PCI Bus slots.
  • Supports 3.3v/5v PCI bus Interface.
Main Memory
  • Support 6 memory banks / 3 184-pin DDR DIMM.
  • Support a maximum memory size up to 3GB.
  • Supports 2.5v DDR SDRAM DIMM.

On-Board IDE

  • An IDE controller on the VIA VT8233 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO,
  • Bus Master and Ultra DMA 33/66/100 operation modes.
  • Can connect up to four IDE devices.

Promise 20265R On-Board (Optional)

  • Support IDE RAID 0 or 1
  • Can connect a Master and a Slave drive to each IDE RAID connector.
  • The two connectors support hard disk drives only.
    Note: only the two Master Hard Disk Drives will adopt RAID function

USB Interface (Optional)

  • USB 2.0 HC On Board (Optional)
  • Support 4 USB 2.0 ports via extemal bracket
  • USB PC2PC Networking Function (Optional)
  • Controlled by USB PC2PC Controller
  • Supported by the JUSB2 pin header
  • 6 USB Ports (Optional)
  • Controlled by VT8233 Soughbirdge
  • 2 rear ports and 4 port supported by JUSB2 & JUSB3

Audio

  • Chip integrated (2 channel S/W audio) / Direct Sound AC97 Audio

On-Board Peripherals include:

  • 1 Floppy port supports 2 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88M
  • 2 Serial ports (COM A+COM B)
  • 1 Parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
  • 1 IrDA connector for SIR/ASKIR/HPSIR
  • 1 Audio/Game port

BIOS

  • The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
  • The mainboard provides a Desktop Management Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard specifications.

Dimension

  • ATX Form Factor (30.4cm x 23.5cm)
  • 6 mounting holes
As you can see from the above specification list, this board is feature laden. Even without looking at the specifications, you'd know the MSI K7T266 Pro is something special the moment the box is opened.

The "out of box" experience with the K7T266 Pro is fantastic. Quite a few motherboards pass through the H.H. labs, making it tough to get excited about many of the boards we get our hands on, but not with the K7T266 Pro. This board ships with a plethora of goodies. In our box we found two excellent user's manuals outlining the features of both the board and the on-board Promise RAID controller. We also found a floppy cable and two 80-Wire UDMA IDE cables. That is where most companies would stop, but MSI also included a set of external USB connectors, and another USB bracket and cable that will allow you to connect one PC to another via the USB ports. All necessary drivers for the chipset and on-board sound were included as well as some thermal paste and a sweet chrome case badge emblazoned with a "Geared by MSI" graphic.
 

 

Layout and Installation 

                       

 

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