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MSI K7T266 Pro DDR Socket A Monster
Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 14, 2001
With the influx of DDR memory
into the market place, came a craving for a high performing chipset to
exploit the increased bandwidth offered by this new memory type.
AMD was first to introduce
a DDR chipset for the Athlon. However, the chipset wasn't widely
available and was priced slightly higher than expected.
ALi then jumped into
the fray with their DDR enabled MaGiK1 chipset. The MaGiK1 was quickly
adopted by some major motherboard OEMs and has met with some success. Many
users however chose to wait for
VIA's DDR offering,
before spending their hard earned money on a new motherboard.
VIA announced their KT266 chipset and power users began chomping at the bit.
In the last couple of years, VIA has been on a roll, releasing inexpensive,
yet high performing chipsets. This time around, months went by without
seeing any products based on the KT266 chipset. Rumors circulated that the
KT266 was not stable, or was performing far lower than expected. Then
MSI's K7T266 Pro was
introduced but all was not well.
A few well respected sites quickly reviewed the MSI K7T266 Pro, but their
findings were not consistent. Some sites resorted to soldering resistors to
different locations in an effort to realize the full potential of the KT266
chipset, while others argued that a simple BIOS update was all that was
needed for maximum performance. During this "storm" of information we got
our hands on a retail MSI K7T266 Pro but we decided to wait until the dust
settled and the BIOS and drivers matured before we passed judgment. We
updated our K7T266 Pro to the recently released 1.20 BIOS, mounted our 1GHz
AXIA T-Bird, installed the Via 4-in-1 4.32s and let her rip. Come see
what we found out.
Specifications / Features of the
MSI K7T266 Pro
DDR for the Masses?
Click any Image for an Enlarged view...
- Socket A for AMD(R) Athlon? / Duron?
600MHz - 1.4GHz
- VIA(R) Apollo KT266 chipset / VT8233
- VIA(R) VT8366 chipset. (552 BGA)
- 184-pin DDR-DIMM x3
- Maximum 3GB
- AGP x1 or AGP Pro x1(only for K7T266
- CNR x1
- PCI x5
Audio / Video
- Audio Chip Integrated
- AGP 4x and PCI Advanced high
performance memory Controller
- Fuzzy Logic 3
- Live BIOS
VIA(R) VT8233 chipset.
- High Bandwidth Vlink Client controller
- Integrated Faster Ethernet LPC
(Optional CNR card support)
- Integrated Hardware Sound Blaster /
Direct Sound AC'97 audio
- Ultra DMA 33/66/100 master mode PCI
- One CNR (Communication Network Riser).
- One AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) or
AGP Pro slot. Note : AGP Pro only for K7T266 Pro-R
- AGP specifcation compliant.
- Support AGP 2.0 1x/2x/4x
- Five 32-bit Master PCI Bus slots.
- Supports 3.3v/5v PCI bus Interface.
- Support 6 memory banks / 3 184-pin DDR
- Support a maximum memory size up to
- Supports 2.5v DDR SDRAM DIMM.
- An IDE controller on the VIA VT8233
chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO,
- Bus Master and Ultra DMA 33/66/100
- Can connect up to four IDE devices.
Promise 20265R On-Board
- Support IDE RAID 0 or 1
- Can connect a Master and a Slave drive
to each IDE RAID connector.
- The two connectors support hard disk
Note: only the two Master Hard Disk Drives will adopt RAID function
USB Interface (Optional)
- USB 2.0 HC On Board (Optional)
- Support 4 USB 2.0 ports via extemal
- USB PC2PC Networking Function
- Controlled by USB PC2PC Controller
- Supported by the JUSB2 pin header
- 6 USB Ports (Optional)
- Controlled by VT8233 Soughbirdge
- 2 rear ports and 4 port supported by
JUSB2 & JUSB3
- Chip integrated (2 channel S/W audio)
/ Direct Sound AC97 Audio
- 1 Floppy port supports 2 FDD with
360K, 720K, 1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88M
- 2 Serial ports (COM A+COM B)
- 1 Parallel port supports SPP/EPP/ECP
- 1 IrDA connector for SIR/ASKIR/HPSIR
- 1 Audio/Game port
- 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
- ATX Form Factor (30.4cm x 23.5cm)
- 6 mounting holes
|As you can see
from the above specification list, this board is feature laden. Even
without looking at the specifications, you'd know the MSI K7T266 Pro is
something special the moment the box is opened.
The "out of box" experience
with the K7T266 Pro is fantastic. Quite a few motherboards pass through
the H.H. labs, making it tough to get excited about many of the boards
we get our hands on, but not with the K7T266 Pro. This board ships with
a plethora of goodies. In our box we found two excellent user's manuals
outlining the features of both the board and the on-board Promise RAID
controller. We also found a floppy cable and two 80-Wire UDMA IDE
cables. That is where most companies would stop, but MSI also included a
set of external USB connectors, and another USB bracket and cable that
will allow you to connect one PC to another via the USB ports. All
necessary drivers for the chipset and on-board sound were included as
well as some thermal paste and a sweet chrome case badge emblazoned with
a "Geared by MSI" graphic.