MSI GNB Max Motherboard

The MSI GNB Max Motherboard - Page 4

The MSI GNB Max-FISR Motherboard
Intel's Granite Bay With Dual Channel DDR and AGP8X

By, Dave Altavilla
December 8, 2002

Performance Comparisons with Unreal Tournament 2003
High End Direct X Gaming Performance

We feel this next round of testing is really where the rubber meets the road.  Unreal Tournament 2003 is definitely a CPU resource hog.  However, it is also a system bandwidth and memory bandwidth hog, with it's large detailed textures transferring across the AGP bus from system to local memory.  We did however, try to minimize the amount of effort the Radeon 9700 Pro had to put forth in this test, with a low quality 640X480 resolution benchmark run.  Will Dual Channel DDR and AGP8X be enough to push past the i850E PC1066 setup?  We think so but check the numbers here.

         640X480 Resolution


   640X480 Resolution

In both the Bot Match and Fly By runs, the MSI GNB Max-FISR pulled ahead of the i850E PC1066 system by about 3%.  Perhaps this isn't a huge increase in performance but it did scale in both types of testing here and was consistent and repeatable.  Is the average user going to notice a few extra frames per second?  Absolutely not but a performance lead is a lead regardless and the AGP8X, Dual Channel DDR MSI GNB Max-FISR, shows it's got one up on it's siblings.  Now, think about what this chipset could do with DDR333 behind the wheel or even DDR400.  We hope to prove this out with a new BIOS from MSI or as other Granite Bay boards come into the HH Lab.


Final Analysis:

We were thoroughly impressed with the overall performance of the GNB Max-FISR from MSI.  This board took the lead from our i850E/PC1066 test bed in almost every test, with the exception of Quake 3.  Remember, this is a new chipset from Intel, so as it matures we should see incremental performance enhancements and more OEMs like MSI delivering various flavors and incarnations of the product.  The feature set and pack in kit of this board, are second to none and we love to see SATA RAID and Gigabit Ethernet on board.  If only SATA Hard Drives would ship to the retail channel.  On the downside, this board is fighting with one hand tied behind its back, with it's lack luster BIOS and no real overclocking features beyond FSB adjustments.  Once again, we want to urge MSI to do the right thing and release a BIOS update, that turns this board into the tweaked out power-house it wants to be.

All told, Intel's new Granite Bay chipset shows enormous promise with DDR DRAM driven performance that will put another nail in RDRAM's coffin.  If you are in the market to pick up a Pentium 4 board, there is really no reason to look at the i850E chipset any longer, even though a few months ago we would have advised you otherwise.  Intel's E7205 with Dual Channel DDR266 memory, although it will be a tad more expensive than the i845PE, is a better value on the price/performance curve.  The MSI GNB Max-FISR is a great board with aspirations for near perfection, that is only a BIOS revision away.  In it's current state, we'll give it a HotHardware Heat Meter Rating of...

  • AGP 8x Support
  • Gigabit LAN
  • 6-channel on-board audio
  • Faster than even i850E with PC1066
  • Firewire, USB 2.0 and SATA RAID
  • BIOS tweaking options are minimal
  • Didn't overclock well
  • Lack of official DDR333 support

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Tags:  MSI, Motherboard, MS, board, AR

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