MSI KT4 Ultra
- Package Contents
The MSI KT4 Ultra came bundled with a few extra goodies that the AT7-MAX2 lacked. Firstly, it comes with three backplate brackets - one featuring two Firewire ports, another with two USB 2.0 ports and finally, one providing a number of extra audio ports (including SPDIF) supported by the onboard 5.1 controller.
It was disappointing to see no software bundle whatsoever included with the board, however, as mentioned earlier, this often leads to a lower priced board and is not too much of an issue for enthusiasts as we'd most likely already own the software anyway.
- The Board
The MSI KT4 Ultra features the same red PCB we're used to seeing on MSI products. Unfortunately, the board we received does not include a RAID controller. This could be an issue for some of you, however, as you will see if you continue reading, MSI do make up for this with other features. Like the other boards, the KT4 Ultra features SerialATA support through the Promise 20376 controller, however, unlike the Abit AT7-MAX2 board, it does not include a SerialATA-to-ParallelATA converter.
The KT4 Ultra also features gigabit LAN (10/100/1000) as well as Bluetooth wireless networking support, which is something that is currently very rare. Although these features won't be very useful for the average home user, they are a god-send for businesses and large corporations.
We were pleased to see that the C-Media 8738MX controller provides 6-channel audio for the KT4 Ultra. We found this controller to be of very high quality and would even go as far as saying that it is superior to some of the mid-range PCI solutions currently on the market. Also of note is that the controller supports both EAX and A3D positional audio.
Furthermore, the KT4 Ultra features six USB 2.0 ports as well as two IEEE1394 ports. There are also six PCI slots and three DIMM slots, which again is quite impressive considering the amount of onboard controllers packed onto the board.
The overall layout of the board was great, with all components and connectors positioned logically and out of the way of wiring.
The KT4 Ultra's BIOS features a decent number of overclocking options. The FSB can be adjusted from 100MHz all the way up to 280MHz in 1MHz increments. One option we feel is lacking from the board's BIOS is the ability to set the CPU:PCI:AGP ratio.
The board allows multiplier adjustments from 5x all the way up to 13x+ and the core and DIMM voltages can be set up to 1.85V and 2.8V respectively. Again, the MSI KT4 Ultra's BIOS isn't as comprehensive as that of the Abit AT7-MAX2, however, it does include all of the basic adjustments. We were able to overclock our AthlonXP 2200+ up to an FSB of 190MHz. Any further and the board would not remain stable.
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