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MSI MS850Pro
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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MSI MS850Pro - Page 1

MSI  850Pro
MSI's P4 Board Driven By the i850

By Dave Altavilla
2/12/01
 

MSI -  Micro-Star International, has long been known for top quality motherboards designed with the Performance or Power User in mind.  In addition, they are typically one of the first few vendors out of the gate with a new technology or motherboard platform.  The third Pentium 4 or Socket 423 based motherboard to be tested here at HotHardware was sent to us from this veteran player in the field.   

The MS850Pro is an i850 based motherboard from MSI that goes head to head with the likes of the Asus P4T and Gigabyte GA-8TX.  Let's see how this product from MSI stacks up versus this stiff competition.

Specifications of The MSI 850Pro
Good layout and an easy upgrade


 

CPU
Supports Socket 423 for Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4
Processor up to 1.5GHz or faster
 
Chipset
Intel(R) 850 chipset
Up to 2GB Maximum memory (RAMBUS)
AGP Pro Interface with 4x SBA/Data Transfer

Intel(R) ICH2
AC?97 Controller Integrated
2 full IDE channels, up to ATA100
Low pin count interface for SIO
4 USB Ports


FSB
Supports 400MHz FSB
Main Memory
Supports four 168-pin Gold-lead RIMM sockets.
Supports a maximum memory size of 2GB.

Slots
One CNR (Communication Network Riser) slot.
One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) Pro slot. Supports up to 4x mode
Five 32-bit/33MHz Master PCI Bus slots.
Supports 3.3v/5v PCI bus Interface.

On-Board IDE
An IDE controller on the ICH2 chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with
PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA 100 operation modes.
Can connect up to four IDE devices.

Integrated Super I/O Controller
Winbond W83627HF-AW I/O controller
1 Floppy port supports 2 FDD with 360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes.
2 Serial ports (COM A + COM B)
1 Parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode
1 IrDA connector for SIR

Audio
ICH2 chip integrated
Creative CT5880 (Optional)
-- 64 Voice WaveTable Synthesizer
-- Sound Library of over 4000 different sounds
-- Support SPDIF (AC3)
-- Support Microsoft Direct Sound, Direct Sound 3D, Direct Music, and
A3DAPI

BIOS
The mainboard BIOS provides "Plug & Play" BIOS which detects the
peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically.
IDE drive auto configure, Advanced Power Management (APM) 1.2, ACPI
1.0, DMI 2.0, ECC/Parity support.

Dimension
ATX Form Factor : 12inches(L) x 9.6inches(W) x 6 layers PCB

Mounting
9 mounting holes

 

 

             

Connectors, you can't live with them and you can't shoot 'em... I think I knew a girl like that once.  A necessary evil, connectors, whether they be power, EIDE, DIMM Sockets, or even IO Plugs, are always the largest components on a motherboard and generally cause the most heartburn during assembly and system setup.  MSI does an admirable job of locating all three power connectors for the P4 platform, ATX, AUX, and ATX12V, on the edge of the board and out of the way of the CPU and DIMM sockets. 

     

In addition, the board has "press fit" style CPU heat sink retention clips, shown  below, that do not require bolting down to a chassis.  As a result, you can mount this P4 board in any standard ATX case.  As long as you have an ATX12V compliant power supply, as an upgrade, it's plug and play.

 

The CPU heat sink retention clips provided with the MS 850Pro are easily the best design we have seen thus far.  They are a hinge based lever style clip that really holds the sink in place and is amazingly easy to install and release once mounted.  We've got to hand it to MSI on this design, nicely done.

The MS 850Pro's  BIOS, Setup and Overclocking

 
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MSI MS850Pro - Page 1

MSI  850Pro
MSI's P4 Board Driven By the i850

By Dave Altavilla
2/12/01
 

As you can imagine mechanically, setup with this board was a snap.  Let's look at the electrical side of things and see what's under the hood.
 

CPU Setup ?

Memory Timings

Advanced Setup

Health Monitoring

Alright then, we have to come out and tell it like it is in this section.  If you are interested in running a P4 board that allows you to tweak your system for optimal performance, the MS-850Pro with its current BIOS revision, is not a board you would want.  Unless MSI updates the BIOS on the 850Pro with additional features and enhancements, this board will remain quite mundane.  Without doubt, a BIOS revision could unlock the potential within the 850Pro but that is up to MSI deliver.

Overclocking
or lack there of

This section is going to be short and sweet.  There is currently no way to overclock a stock retail P4 CPU with this board.  There is only the ability to change the multiplier of the processor, which is useful in the event that you are fortunate enough to own an Engineering Release P4 direct from Intel.  In other words, its useless due to the fact that all Intel CPUs are multiplier locked... but you knew that.

So, we might as well get to our standard performance numbers.

H.H. Test System
Straight up

 

- MSI MS-850Pro Motherboard with Pentium 4 Processor @ 1.5GHz.

- 256MB of Samsung PC800 RAMBUS DRDRAM,

- IBM DTLA307030 30Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive - Supplied by Outside Loop!

- nVidia GeForce 2 Ultra 64MB AGP Graphics Card,

- 56K PCI Modem

- Sound Blaster Live Sound Card,

- Hitachi DVD ROM Drive,

- WindowsME 

- Direct X 8.0 and nVidia reference drivers version 7.17

- Intel chipset drivers version 2.60a
 

Benchmarks With MSI's MS-850Pro
In with the pack

As with all of our motherboard reviews here at HH, we'll start off the testing with a few runs of SiSoft's Sandra, just to get a baseline reading.

CPU Test 1.5GHz.

Multimedia Test 1.5GHz.

Sandra Memory 1.5GHz.

Sandra Drive Benchmark

Fairly standard issue scores were reported here.  The MS-850Pro keeps pace with the P4 reference system in these tests.  However, note the fact that Sandra reports a 1.48GHz. clock speed in the CPU test.  This suggests a little less aggressive clock timing generation on the board and even though it is set to 1.5GHz., the PLL (phase lock loop) Clock  is driving something a little less than that standard clock speed.

Let's move out to more strenuous testing...

Business, Content Creation, Q3 and the Heat Meter

 
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MSI MS850Pro Page 3


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