MSI 648 Max Motherboard

The MSI 648 Max Motherboard - Page 3

The MSI 648 Max Motherboard Review
Great Performance at a Great Price...

By, Robert Maloney
October 23, 2002

Performance Comparisons with 3DMark 2001SE
Synthetic Gaming

Next up is 3DMark 2001 SE, also created by the folks at MadOnion.  Due to the fact that we are looking for more system related scores, and not looking to stress the video capabilities, we used lower resolutions than you would normally see in a graphics card review.  We ran two series of tests, one at 800x600 with 32-bit color and again at 1024x768x32, both times with all other program settings left at their defaults.

The MSI 648 Max walloped the other two boards by a margin of 600-800 points, which relates to a 5-6% difference in performance.  Overclocking the system only bumped up the score by about 400 points.

The differences at 1024x768 were much less than we saw at 800x600, but still noteworthy.  There MSI 648 Max held a 3% lead over the DFI board and a 4% increase over the IWILL board.

Performance Comparisons with Quake 3 Arena v1.17
I have the need...the need for speed

We also ran some Quake 3 Arena v1.17 Time Demo (demo001) scores at a resolution of 640X480, using 16-bit color and textures.  Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card at this low resolution isolates motherboard and processor performance.  Frame rates are limited by the number of polygons the CPU is able to push through the bus, without being limited by the graphics subsystem.

At these minimal settings, the demo goes by in a heartbeat, and all boards came up with similar framerates except for the IWILL board, which beat out the others by close to 30 frames per second.  The MSI 648 Max had a decent showing at 337.3, but we were only able to pump put an extra two frames per second when overclocking the system.

"Real World" Performance with the Stones
Simulated Application Performance

Last, but not least, are two benchmarks from Ziff Davis ? Business Winstone 2001 and Content Creation Winstone 2002.

Business Winstone is an application-based benchmark, which runs through a series of scripts using business programs such as Microsoft Office 2000, FrontPage 2000, Lotus Notes and Netscape. It attempts to emulate a business system load, and then gives a rating.

At default clockspeeds, the MSI 648 Max was outpaced by both of the i845 powered motherboards.  When we overclocked the system, the 648 Max was able to overtake the DFI board, but Iwill's P4ES held on for the win in this test.

Content Creation Winstone 2002 is another application-based benchmark, this time using popular content creation programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere, Macromedia Director and Dreamweaver, and Microsoft Windows Media Encoder. It keeps these multiple applications open and switches among them while running scripts.  The time it takes to completely run the scripts is used to generate the score.

Using the Content Creation Winstone benchmark, the 648 Max rebounded back into the lead, and retook its place at the top of the charts.  All the scores were close, with the differences among the three boards being only 0.8.  In both tests, overclocking provided a small boost in performance, about 3% in Business Winstone 2001 and only just about 1.5% in Content Creation Winstone 2002.


Overall, we were pleased with the MSI 648 Max.  The SiS648 is the most feature rich, and arguably the fastest DDR chipset available for the Pentium 4.  Even though the 648 brings more features to the table than most other P4 chipsets, motherboards based on the 648 are relatively inexpensive.  The MSI 648 Max can be found on Pricewatch.Com for less than $100 US.  We obviously don't base our ratings on price alone though.  We had limited success when overclocking with the MSI 648 Max, and there were some minor problems with the BIOS and layout.  However, the MSI 648 Max proved to be a solid performer, leading the pack in most of the benchmarks we ran.  It was also crammed with useful features, like Gigabit LAN and 6-Channel audio.  For the money, you'd be hard pressed to find a more feature laden board from a manufacturer as well known as MSI.  We should also mention that the MSI 648 Max was very stable, and exhibited instability only while overclocked.  Based on its good performance, great price and impressive list of features, we give the MSI 648 Max an 8 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.

  • AGP 8x Support
  • Gigabit LAN
  • 6-channel on-board audio
  • Great Price vs. Performance ratio
  • Didn't overclock well

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Tags:  MSI, Motherboard, MS, board, AR

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