MSI 648 MAX-F Motherboard Review
I was really excited
about sitting down and testing this SiS 648 based motherboard. From what I've read the SiS
648 chipset is supposed to be a full-blown i850E/RDRAM killer and I really wanted to test this out
Since I've just upgraded my home system to a P4
using the i850/RDRAM this was news I really didn't want to hear, especially
considering all the good DDR I have lying around.
As we mentioned in the PCstats.com review of the ECS AG400 (Xabre400),
SiS are really in the chipset spotlight right now. Like VIA a few
years back, it seems that every chipset that is coming out from
SiS is a hit. It started with the SiS 735 chipset for the Athlon if you recall.
When the SiS 735 was released it was easily the
most powerful AMD/DDR chipset around, and even caused VIA (SiS's arch rival) to
revise their KT266 chipset for better performance! From evidence online, SiS's
new 648 has potential to be one of the most powerful P4 chipsets around!
In the usual MSI fashion, when new a chipset comes
out they are quick to adopt it. The MSI 648 MAX-F supports Pentium4
processors in the Socket m478 form factor which run at either 400 MHz or 533 MHz
FSB (Front Side Bus). In terms of feature the motherboard has onboard 5.1
audio albeit from the AC-97 codec; 8X AGP , Gigabit
LAN (10/100/1000), six USB ports (four rear, two
USB 2.0), six PCI slots, and three DIMM's that support upto 3GB
of PC1600/PC2100/PC2700 officially and PC3200 (DDR400)... unofficially that
is! The SiS 693 Southbridge supports
UDMA133 as well, but not IDE RAID is not
an option here.
other MSI boards, the 648 MAX-F comes in a shade of bright red PCB (which will
appeal to style conscious case modders). The ATX board is really very expandable with no
less than six PCI slots
- you shouldn't have any problems adding in extra soundcards, or PCI
our ever increasing thirst for speed and bandwidth, MSI have taken the
liberty of adding onboard Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000!) care of the Broadcom
BCM5702CKFB BGA controller. While Gigabit LAN's are not just yet widespread
in the home level right now, its a really nice bit
of future proofing to have. And hey, if you happen to have a Gigabit connection to
your switch you are sitting pretty! The Broadcom specsheets incidentally list this controller as "server class reliability" but
testing that claim out is beyond the scope of this review.
Broadcom BCM5702CKFB controller is a fully integrated
32-bit 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit
Ethernet Media Access Control and Physical Layer
BCM5702 combines PCI bus interfaces, on-chip buffer memory, and integrated
physical layer transceiver (PHY) in a single device. Based on a
low-voltage 0.13um CMOS process, the single BGA chipset is reportedly fine
for use in zero-airflow environments.
The BCM5702 supports with full/half-duplex
capability at all speeds, and includes an on-chip power circuit
controller, WOL, and CPU task off load capability. Windows 98/NT/2000/XP
and Linux 2.2/2.4 are the supported OS's.