MSI 694T Pro Motherboard Review

The MSI 694T Pro Motherboard Review - Page 1


MSI's 694T Pro Motherboard
Let's Shed Some Light on the Subject

By, Jeff Bouton
September 6th, 2001



When one thinks of quality motherboards, several manufacturers come to mind, one of which has to be MSI.  For over 15 years, MSI has been producing some of the finest computer products on the market and today we've reviewed yet another, the 694T Pro Motherboard.  This model being the first of their motherboards to sport the new VIA Apollo Pro133T Chipset, offering support for Intel's new "Tualatin" processor.




With the promising results we've been seeing with the last few "Tualatin" capable motherboards, I was eager to get the testing going and see how the 694T Pro performed. So let us jump right into it with a run down of the product specs...



Specifications of the MSI 694T Pro Motherboard
How Did They Fit It All?

Special Features

  • D-LED

  • LiveBIOS

  • FuzzyLogic 3

  • USB PC 2 PCC

  • D-Bracket


  • Support Socket 370 for the whole series of new generation Intel® Pentium® III(FC-PGA / FC-PGA2), Celeron? and VIA® Processor.

  • Supports 500MHz to 1.13GHz.


VIA® 694X / 694T chipset
(North-Bridge 510BGA)66/100/133MHz FSB

  • AGP 4x and PCI plus advanced ECC memory controller.

  • PC100/133 SDRAM, VCM and ESDRAM

VIA® VT82C686B chipset
(South-Bridge 352 BGA)

  • Advanced Power Management.

  • Integrated super I/O (FDC, LPT, COM 1&2 and IR)

  • DirectSound AC'97 audio

  • Dual bus-master IDE ultra DMA 33/66/100

  • ACPI

Main Memory

  • Three 168-pin unbuffered DIMM

  • Maximum memory size of 1.5GB

  • Supports 3.3v SDRAM DIMM

  • ECC(1-bit Error Code Correct)

On-Board IDE

  • An IDE controller on the VIA VT82C686B 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.


  • 66/100/133 MHz FSB


  • One AMR (Audio Modem Riser) slot

  • One AGP 4X slot

  • Five 32-bit master PCI bus slots and one 16-bit ISA bus slot (shared)

  • Supports 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface


  • Chip integrated.

  • AC'97

On-Board Peripherals

  • 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

  • 4 USB ports (rear x2 / front x2, one for USB PC2PC)

  • 1 IrDA/HP connector for SIR

  • D-Bracket pin header


  • AMI Flash 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.


  • ATX Form Factor, 4 layers PCB.


  • 6 mounting holes.

When we first opened the box to the 694T Pro motherboard, we were pleasantly surprised.  This is one of the more complete packages we've seen here in the H.H. labs for quite some time.  Here is a list of what you can expect to get in addition to the 694T Pro motherboard:

A Users Manual
A D-LED Users Guide
A MSI Case Badge
1 - 80-PIN ATA 100 IDE Cable
1 - Floppy Cable
1 - PC-to-PC USB Cable
1 - USB D-Bracket
A Drivers/Utilities CD

Not only does MSI offer a nice bit of extras "ON" their motherboard, but they also offer a nice bit of extras "WITH" their motherboard.  Often we've written about motherboard manufacturers that design a beautiful motherboard with a vast array of features yet they don't include the extra hardware required to take advantage of these features.  This was certainly not the case with the 694T Pro.  For example, we were refreshed to find that when MSI boasted that their new board had the ability to connect two PC's via USB, they included All necessary hardware and software for users to take full advantage of this feature.  I lost count how many times I have reported that a motherboard had additional USB headers on it, yet no hardware was provided by the manufacturer. 



Another nice touch was a Drivers/Utilities CD that is jam-packed with useful applications to take full advantage of the motherboards features.  MSI has put together a simple and clean menu that allows a user easy access to every bit of software on the CD.   With such a nice presentation and attention to providing quality media, It was disappointing to see that some of the drivers on the CD were not current.  Included on this disk were the VIA 4-in1drivers Version 4.29 yet Version 4.32 has been out for several months now.  MSI also included nVidia Detonator drivers but unfortunately they were version 10.40, there have been several revisions since the 10.40's were released.  However in anticipation of software becoming outdated, MSI had the good mind to include links to both sites so you can check for updates regularly. 

I found that the CD comes with so many useful utilities for overclocking and tweaking of the 694T Pro, it proved impractical to discuss them all.  Instead, I've highlighted what I thought would be the more popular and helpful applications...

More Goodies, Quality, and Setup,...



Tags:  MSI, Motherboard, MS, review, board, view, pro, IE, AR

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