Microstar International's MS-6337 -  i815E Pro
Our second pass at the i815E and it gets better every time.

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla


Installation / Setup and Overclocking
The i815E gets friendlier

Mechanically speaking, the i815E Pro is laid out pretty well and most connections are made fairly easily. 

The ATX power connector is behind the CPU socket, which is by no means optimal.  However, it is fairly close to the edge of the PCB which does allow you to tuck the ATX Power cord away fairly neatly and keep it from obstructing air flow around the CPU Heat Sink.

Electrically speaking, with BIOS driven CPU setup as the defacto standard for many of the big motherboard players these days, installation was a breeze.  The MS-6337's BIOS menus are very full featured and "tweakable".  Let's have a quick look.

      CPU Setup                        SDRAM Timings                      Health Monitoring

Have you ever seen such beauty is a BIOS CPU Setup Menu?  OK, so maybe associating the word "beautiful" with a computer component REALLY shows of our deep "geekedness" around here but we were genuinely impressed.  These days, BIOS screens all pretty much have the same options in this area with the only variance being how high the front side bus speed can be set. 

However, the MS-6337's BIOS allows you to tweak the front side bus in 1MHz. increments or just hit enter and type in your clock speed up to 166MHz.  It also allows you to tweak both core and I/O voltages.  Finally, the menu shows you with respect to your CPU multiplier, what overall bus speeds will be driven at a specific Front Side Bus speed that you dial in for the processor.  Ever wonder what speed the AGP Bus was running at on an i815 board when set to 145MHz. FSB?  This little feature takes all the guess work out of it.  As the saying goes, sometimes "little things mean a lot".

We should note however, that there is a small fly in the ointment at the time we were writing this review.  It seems that with the exception of the original release version of the BIOS, Core Voltage settings are not currently working correctly.  We were able to set the voltage on BIOS version 1.0 but with 1.2 and later, we set it to a specific voltage and it wouldn't affect the output from the regulator on the board.  We then checked the BIOS to make sure it was set and indeed it still showed the 1.8V that we dialed in but the monitors were showing 1.7 or less going to the CPU.  Again, with BIOS version 1.0 this was not a problem and it worked flawlessly.  However, version 1.0 does not have the spiffy bus speed tables listed in it.  We have contacted MSI about this small anomaly and they assured us of a fix shortly.  We are confident that this won't be a problem for long.

Finally, MSI was one of the first manufacturers to release a BIOS update utility that can be run from a Windows environment.  Flash upgrading your BIOS could not be easier now thanks to a small program that is included in the package.  Once installed and executed, it fires up your web browser and links to the MSI download site.

Click for full view

It then checks your BIOS version and detects whether or not you need an update.  At that point, if you are behind a revision, it will execute the "WinFlash" program and upgrade you BIOS right then and there.  After that your machine is reset automatically and you are done.  We tried it and it worked flawlessly!  Bravo MSI, bravo.

Overclocking With The MS-6337
MSI has it down cold.

If you were wondering whether that missing heat sink on the i815E chipset was going to be a problem with stability, this is the section that should shake things out for you.

We set up our board with a quality standard fan blown heat sink.  Granted the Alpha PEP66 that we used is a higher end product but we used nothing that exotic in our efforts simply to show you what sort of "out of the box" experience you can expect.  However, we did use BIOS revision 1.0 so that we could tweak the voltage of the CPU and put the MS-6337 on a level playing field with others we have tested.  Here are the results from our 933MHz. P3.

Our opinion is that not having passive cooling on the chipset was not a limitation in any way.  The MS-6337 is a very stable board.  This clock speed was achieved at default voltage and a high end of 1088MHz. was achieved at 1.8 volts with full stability.  Remember, for you "doubting Toms" of the world,  it would be fairly easy to install a small heat sink on the chipset, if you wanted a little extra peace of mind.

Let's move out...

Performance and The Rating