MSI 694T Pro Motherboard Review

The MSI 694T Pro Motherboard Review - Page 2


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

By, Jeff Bouton
September 6th, 2001



The first utility that caught my attention was 3D!Turbo.  Similar to Powerstrip, 3D!Turbo is a robust video card overclocking and tweaking utility.  I found the interface to be well laid out and user friendly, with several useful features.  Aside from being able to easily overclock my GeForce 3, 3D!Turbo also offers the option to have multiple desktops running on a machine at one time.  If you are like me, you often find yourself running four or more programs at any given time.  Using 3D!Turbo's Desktop Switching feature, I found it much easier to keep my desktop well organized by simply creating several virtual ones.  The information window offers some settings that are otherwise unavailable in the default drivers settings as well.  It is no secret that I am not a big fan of bonus applications, I've often found them to be nothing more than "fluff" and many times simply useless.  However, after using 3D!Turbo, I have to say that this utility was spared a trip to the Recycle Bin.






Another nice utility is Fuzzy-Logic III.  This little gem allows users to monitor critical system information as well as giving them the added ability to overclock their machine from within Windows.  If you are uncertain about what to change, or are simply overwhelmed by all the options available in the BIOS, then you may find Fuzzy-Logic III a friendly overclocking utility.  Fuzzy-Logic III has an auto-overclocking feature that scans the system for the optimal overclock settings and then implements the changes.  Novice overclockers should find this to be a useful utility, it offers little to the seasoned veterans out there.  We did notice however that it did not report certain information correctly, but it did not appear to affect its functionality.




Now that we've discussed the product specifications and some of the extras included with the 694T Pro, let's take a closer look at the board itself...


Quality & Setup of the MSI 694T Pro Motherboard
Very Nice...


The overall layout of the 694T Pro was excellent, clearly the designers put a lot of thought into the physical layout of this board.  MSI did a very nice job placing each component in such a way that their position had no affect on adjacent items.  For example, we've often noted how a manufacturer left little room between the AGP & DIMM slots, requiring the removal of the AGP graphics card while installing or changing the RAM.  With the 694T Pro, MSI not only managed to fit a total of 8 slots on the motherboard, they did it without forcing the AGP and DIMM slots up against each other.  When it comes time to upgrade the RAM on this board, it will be an easy job with minimal fuss.




It was also nice to see the power connector mounted in such a way that the power cables will not drape over the CPU cooler, impeding the airflow.  Several large capacitors were mounted in close proximity to the Socket 370 and DIMM slots, insuring clean current is provided to these critical components.  We found that the capacitor placement was such that they did not interfere with the installation of our oversized cpu cooler.  There was no difficulty installing a Global Win FOP38 7000RPM Cooler on the CPU and believe there would be no problem installing an even larger cooling package if desired.




The labeling for the case connectors were a bit unclear on this board and it's highly recommend that the users guide not get misplaced.  There was a small chart imprinted on the board, but it is possible that some users may misinterpret it.  It was also disappointing to see that the 694T Pro only came with 2 fan headers available.  Lately it has become a common (and welcomed) sight to see up to 4 fan headers on a motherboard.  With MSI's obvious encouragement of overclocking with the 694T Pro, it would have been nice to see the consideration for easy integration of additional cooling fans into the system.





Oh, and don't let me forget to mention those nice little diagnostic LED's that were included on the board.  They are a little difficult to see, but there they are nestled next to the on-board sound connectors.  Fortunately for us, we didn't have any reason to use these lights, but if a problem arose, I'd welcome any assistance they could provide to help troubleshoot the problem

Let's move onto to the BIOS and see what ties it all together...



The BIOS, The Stones, and a Touch of Overclocking


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

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