MSI E7205 Master-L Workstation Motherboard Review
the i875 Canterwood chipset surfaced and brought in support
for 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 processors, we had the Intel E7205 Granite
Bay. Slated as a the new 'workhorse of workstation systems', this chipset
has been received with much interest, though in limited
numbers. PCstats.com tested out one such example in the form
of the MSI GNB Max-FISR motherboard a few weeks ago, which while incorporating the E7205 chipset, is
a purely desktop-oriented solution. The GNB Max is a good board by its own right, but if your computing situation demands
more of a heavy-hitter then todays review of the MSI E7205 Master-L could be just what the doctor ordered.
same dual channel DDR memory capabilities,
the MSI E7205 Master-L is clearly a solution for workstation environments which demand a little more punch, like
(drop-in) onboard SCSI for example. Outfitted with a MiniPCI socket, the board has a
level of expandability not often seen out of the server, or SBC (Single
Board Computer) environment.
Of course, the inclusion of the MiniPCI socket
does not a workstation motherboard make. Other appealing features included on the MS9126 E7205 Master-L are a 50-watt 8X AGP slot, Gigabit Ethernet
care of Intel's own RC82540EM chipset, 5.1 channel AC'97 codec-based audio, and five bright blue 32
bit PCI expansion slots.
MiniPCI slot, MSI currently sell optional cards which bring ATI Rage XL video,
IEEE 1394 firewire or Ultra 160 SCSI into the fold as we have already
mentioned. The unit we received for testing came with the Adaptec Ultra 160 SCSI
card, but this is an optional extra and not included in
the standard retail package.
Ships with the following:
- IDE ATA66/100 Cable
- FDD Cable
- Driver CD
- User Manual
- I/O Back Panel Bracket
The Intel E7205 chipset
supports Socket m478 Pentium4 processors running at a 400/533 MHz FSB,
including those chips with Hyper-Threading like the 3.06GHz model.
Despite all the nifty onboard extra's the manufacturer has packed in for typical workstation requirements
(ie data transfer, or low-level server situations), the biggest feature of the E7205 Master-L is
still the dual channel DDR memory capability.
By running two sticks of PC2100
DDR memory in parallel (they must be the same size by the way), you can
now satisfy the bandwidth requirements of a 533 MHz based Pentium4 - 4.2 GB/s. We are
no longer slaves to PC1066/PC4200 RDRAM!
E7205 Master-L is probably one of the biggest motherboards we have reviewed. It
measures 25 cm x 30 cm so be prepared to use a large case like the Antec
SX1040 or the Inwin Q500 to house it.
As you can see
the E7205 Master-L still uses the standard bright red MSI coloured PCB. Like all MSI boards, the E7205 Master-L
is very well laid out.
will really get in the way of anything else, including even the MiniPCI slot.
The IDE/floppy and main ATX power connector are in the most ideal location to
the right of the DIMM slots and the P4 power connector is positioned to the left
of the CPU where it won't get in the way of anything.
Up close and
Unlike most desktop motherboards which only have two or three fan headers,
the E7205 Master-L has a total of five fan headers and they're
all positioned very well. Two are located just above the AGP slot which can be
easily used for exhaust fans or third party GPU cooling. MSI also places two fan
headers on the far right hand side of the board are placed in a way that they
would not interfere with a longer or full length videocards.
The E7205 Master-L uses a large passive heatsink on the E7205 Northbridge
rather then use a smaller active heatsink which could potentially fail with
time. The board is very well labelled, with even the positive and negative
values on the front panel I/O indicated.As a
workstation motherboard, the E7205 Master-L is pretty well equipped with an
Intel Gigabit NIC, 5.1 soundcard and Ultra160 SCSI however if there's something
missing you won't have any problems expanding the motherboard with its five PCI