Micro Star International's MS6167 Athlon Board - HotHardware

Micro Star International's MS6167 Athlon Board

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 Driving The Athlon

MIcro-Star's MS-6167 AMD Based Motherboard

     
Finally, the playing field is begining to level out somewhat in the Processor/Motherboard arena. The consumer is no longer limited to one processor and chipset family that will provide top end performance. For many years competitors to Intel tried to compete in the "Value PC" market nipping at Intel's margins for what was then thought to be the mainstream PC. The high end space was always filled by product produced by the king of the technology hill, Intel. Many of these competitors to Intel fell by the wayside, surcoming to tough economic climates under the strains of being a "me too" in a market lead by a giant. AMD (Advnaced Micro Devices) stayed the course and has recently released a suite of processor technology that competes extremely well against Intel's core competency, the performance PC. There are only a few motherboard manufacturers in the market, at this point in time, that support AMD's newest speed demon, the K7. We took a look at Micro Star International's MS-6167 and for the first time, drove an Athlon! It was a fun ride too. Here's how it went....

Click for large image 

 

 

Pretty standard looking motherboard, right? Wrong... In this shot, the heatsink on the AMD "Irongate" or Northbridge chipset, has been removed do you can see the chip itself (sorry about the lousy image quality on this shot). This board is driven by AMD throughout and uses the Ironbridge and Viper (Southbridge) chipsets to integrate many functions. Here's the goods...

CPU

Slot A for AMD Athlon 500, 550, 600, 650 MHZ. and higher

Chipset

AMD Irongate (Northbridge) - 200MHz. EV6 System Interface Speed

100MHz. SDRAM

1X/2X AGP

AMD Viper (Southbrdige Chipset)

ACPI Power Managerment

FSB

100MHz. (200 MHz. internal bus)

Memory

3 DIMM Sockets supporting 3.3V PC100 SDRAM

Max Memory SIze 768MB

Slots

1 AGP 66/133MHz. , 5 PCI, 2 ISA

On Board EIDE and Peripherals

AMD Viper 756 Supports EIDE HDD/CDROM interface with Ultra DMA66 Compatibility

1 Floppy Port, 2 Serial, 1 Parallel, 2 USB, 1 IrDA Connector

BIOS

Award Plug and Play with DMI Function

Form Factor

ATX: 30.2cm X 20.9cm - 6 Layer Board

 


As you can easily see, this isn't the same ol' BX Board! No offense Andy! :) One aspect that really works for the Athlon mainboard architecture is the 200MHz internal EV6 system bus. Although all interfaces to external memory are at 100MHz., these extra clock cycles should only mean more bandwidth within the processor itself.  

The layout of this board is excellent. It doesn't have a very small footprint but the use of that extra space was very efficient. The ATX Power Connector is located infront of the DIMM Sockets and off to the side enough to keep the cables out of the way of your processor heat sink and fan combo. Perhaps this was by design or perhaps by necessity since there are four very large voltage regulators with heat sinks behind the CPU Slot A. All in all, the MS-6167 is well built and easy to work with.

By the way, just in case you haven't seen what an AMD Athlon looks like....

And take a look here at the HardOCP what is inside the guts of this puppy. However, we weren't ready to rip our Athlon open just yet... :-)

 

Installation, Setup and Over-Clocking

As noted the 6167 installs fairly easily as with most ATX boards. Nothing unusual here. Setup was a little tricky for us under Win98. This was not a problem induced by the 6167 but rather how the OS was installed prior to transplanting our Athlon nerve center. A word to the wise, be prepared to do a full clean Win98 install with any new Athlon based system. We tried installing the 6167 and K7-600 we tested, on a drive and system that had a BX board installed previously. There were many conflicts and system lock-ups until we performed the blessed "deltree Windows" command and started fresh. Once we did that, all was well. I lost a few strands of hair in the process and I need all that I have, thank you. :) Also, Win98SE definitely has better support for the new AMD motherboard chipset, at least from my experience.

     

NVidia - A fly in the oinment?

Another issue of note. In an effort to really make the 6167 and Athlon 600 sing together, we tried installing a hot new GeForce256 card (to be reviewed soon!). There was definitely a compatibility issue here with the AMD Chipset. Rumors are now also circulating aroung the net that the GeForce has an issue with the new VIA PC133 chipset as well. This wouldn't surprise me. Remember the last VIA chipset compatibilty problem with the TNT/TNT2? NVidia released a new AGP Mini-port driver patch and the issues cleared up like magic. Come on NVidia, there is more to life than Intel these days. Let's get the compatibility testing turned up a notch, OK?!! (end rant)

We were able to get a few benchmarks completed on the MS-6167 with the GeForce card but I am not satisfied with the stability so I am not going to post them in this review. Again, this was not an issue, in my opinion, with the MS-6167. We installed our trusty Matrox Millenium G400 and all peacefully co-existed. When you are building a system with recently released motherboards, processors and video cards, you are living on the bleeding edge. We expected a few minor cuts and bruises.

 
Overclocking for the MS-6167 is pretty simple.... It has no overclocking capabilities. You can however buy modified K7s that are 500s setup up to run at higher clock speeds and run them on this board. Check out our buds at Outside Loop for the scoop! (ooh just call me "Busta-Rhyme") 
 

 At the risk of sounding a little "WWF-like"..... (click)

Let's get ready to rumble!!!!!! - Benchmarks!

 
 

 Athlons 500s @ 700MHz! Get 'em while they're hot! At...

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