To be honest we were a bit surprised
that MSI doesn't have a version of the 648 MAX-F with onboard IDE RAID. Since
most motherboards in the 648 MAX-F's class will have IDE RAID, it does put the
board at a slight disadvantage in terms of the "full check
While we're not big fans of the onboard 5.1
audio, the AC'97 codec does perform alright when listening to MP3's or for office use.
If you're a gamer, audiophile or use your system for watching DVD's you're probably better
off getting a hardware based PCI soundcard that don't suck system
system did run stable at stock speeds and when overclocked, the bright green
Northbridge heatsink that passively cools the SiS648 chipset was pretty
hot after an hour or so. In fact it was so hot that I couldn't keep my finger on it for
more then a few seconds! It would be nice if MSI had put a better cooler on the
northbridge rather then the small "BX" cooler. Still, at least they did the little
things right like adding thermal paste between the heatsink and the SiS648
The powersupply on the board features a couple of MOSFET's, but curiously
only two of the four have a heatsink on them. I'd be interested to know if this
is a manufacturing slip up, or just a sensible use of heatsinks where they are
really only needed.
Other things of note...
The 648 MAX-F features just two fan headers for cooling support, and since
there are six PCI's you are going to have to remove that video card if you plan
on installing memory. The board will support bluetooth if you have the optional
(as in extra $$) bluetooth kit MSI have begun selling recently. Bluetooth is a
neat little wireless technology, but with data transfer rates capped around the
740kb/s range it is best suited for smaller amounts of data over a shorter range
Still, with the mass of Bluetooth enabled devices that are expected to hit
the markets over the next year (printers, cellphones, PDA's,
computer-to-computer connections, etc. it is a good feature to have. Within the
realm of cellphones Bluetooth makes the most sense - replacing the often
frustrating Irda with a wireless connection that is easier to set up and which
can handle larger data transfers... because we all
need more personalized ring tones!
The MSI 648 MAX-F uses a custom I/O plate which comes with the unit. If
you have an old case that doesn't give you the option of adding different I/O plates you'll be out of
Overclocking the bright red mainboard:
What review would be complete without a section on overclocking? The 648 MAX-F wasn't the
most powerful overclocking motherboard out there, but still we were interested on how high we could go.
Since I already knew the Pentium 4 1.6A processor could easily break 2.4 GHz, I
first tried a 150 MHz FSB while keeping a
200 MHz memory frequency.
Unfortunately the board wouldn't even POST at that
speed. I then lowered the FSB to 145 MHz
but still no go.
After tinkering with the board I
ended up reaching a maximum FSB of 143 MHz. Not the greatest overclock,
but it seems that the test board sent my MSI might be a an early