MSI KT4 Ultra Motherboard Review

The MSI KT4 Ultra Motherboard Review - Page 3


The MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR Motherboard Review
VIA's KT400 Chipset Matched With MSI's Best

By, Jeff Bouton
October 27, 2002


HotHardware Test Systems
AthlonXP All the Way!!


MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR Motherboard
Abit KX7-333R

Athlon XP 2000+
512MB Geil PC3400 (CAS 2.5)
1 IBM ATA100 7200RPM 42GB HD
Abit GeForce4 Ti4200
Creative 52X CD-ROM
Standard Floppy Drive
Windows XP Professional SP-1
DirectX 8.1
Detonator 30.82
VIA 4-in-1 V4.43

Setting Up:
To start things off, we set the BIOS of the KT4 Ultra to "Load Optimized Defaults.  We then set the memory for CS 2.5 and the Timing Setting Mode to "by SPD".  Next, we installed a fresh copy of Windows XP SP-1, followed by the latest Chipset, IDE and Video drivers.  We uninstalled Microsoft Messenger, set the visual quality to best performance, disabled System Restore, and defragmented the hard drive.  We ran each benchmark with the memory set at the officially supported 333MHz. DDR and the unofficially supported 400MHz. DDR.  As a comparison, we ran the same tests on the Abit KX7-333R with a single drive and memory at 333MHz. DDR.


Overclocking the MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR Motherboard
Get On The Bus!

One of the things we were most curious about was how well the MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR overclocked.  With so many integrated devices on the board, such as the LAN and Audio, there is a higher chance of an overclock failing over a system without integrated devices.  As we began overclocking the system, we soon found that this board was up to the task.  We were able to bump the system up to a maximum bus speed of 150MHz. increasing the CPU output from the default 1667MHz. to 1880MHz.  In the end, we topped out with a hefty gain of 213MHz., a 12.75% increase.  In order to maintain stability, we had to increase the CPU voltage to 1.625 and the DDR Voltage to 2.6 with the MHz. locked at 400.  Of course you may choose to do things differently, the options are endless, but this gives a clear demonstration that if overclocking is important to you, the MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR will not disappoint.  A little later on we'll run a few tests to demonstrate the overclocks impact on overall system performance.

Benchmarking with Sisoft Sandra 2002 Pro
Starting with the Synthetic...

As always, we like to begin our testing phase of the review with a run of some synthetic benchmarks to give us a fair idea where the hardware lies in the big picture.  When it comes to this type of test, we feel that there is no better application suited to the task than SiSoft Sandra Pro SP-1.  This application has one of the largest internal databases available to help give an accurate representation of a system's abilities.  So let us take a look and see what we can expect from the MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR.



When it comes to CPU performance, the system was right on par with what we would expect.  Once we increased the bus speed to 150MHz., we saw an impressive gain in performance, slightly better than an Athlon XP 2200+.  The overclocked processor wasn't able to pass the Pentium 4 2.4GHz. processor in the FPU test, but it clearly had the advantage in the ALU test.


Multimedia O/C

With the Multimedia test, the Athlon 2000+ posted a nice gain when clocked at 1.88GHz.  Although the Floating point score couldn't quite top the Pentium 4 2.4GHz. processor, the integer test was almost equal to that of the 2.66GHz. P4.


1.67GHz./333MHz DDR

1.88GHz./400MHz DDR

When it came to memory performance, the system, equipped with GEIL PC3200 DDR-RAM, turned in a solid score at both 333MHz. and 400MHz.  During testing, the RAM was configured at the specified speed at CAS 2.5 with the remainder set at "by SPD", allowing the onboard EPROM to handle the rest of the timings.  When clocked up to 400MHz, the MSI KT4 Ultra-FISR posted very nice gains.  Later on we will see how much of a difference the additional 66MHz. makes in actual performance.


Hard Drive

The hard drive performance with the KT4 Ultra was mediocre at best, however, we've seen worse.  The true test will be when we roll up our sleeves and get down and dirty with the KT4 Ultra and put it to the test against one of our favorite KT333 based motherboards, the Abit KX7-333R.

MadOnion's PCMark2002Pro and CPU Test

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