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MSI K7 Master-S (MS-6341S) AMD 760 Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI
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Features and Layout

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

Ergonomics

While some may focus on the aesthetics of the box and other sundry characteristics, it is important to note that during packaging; most manufacturers use the smallest boxes possible, in turn making it susceptible to damage. It was satisfying to see that MSI uses a packaging system that allowed the mainboard and accessories to rest comfortably in the box, even when closed. This is important because resistors and or transistors can easily be bent or snapped during packaging or in transit. Moreover, let us not forget that four-foot drop at Federal Express!

SCSI



Fundamentally, the Master-S is identical to its sibling, the K7 Master. The biggest performance difference is Adaptec’s on-board AIC-7899G Ultra 160 SCSI chipset. Referencing MSI’s website indicates that the Master-S employs Adaptec’s AIC-7892 Ultra 160 SCSI chipset. Though MSI’s website lists the single channel AIC-7892 as a feature, they have upped the ante to include the AIC-7899G dual channel 64-bit controller. Employing a 64-bit SCSI bus is exactly what was required for a workstation/server-class mainboard such as the Master-S. In fact, the Master-S is the only AMD 761-based design that offers on board SCSI.

Though this may seem like a small or expensive variation between the Master and Master-S, the difference in performance can be immense. The AIC-7899G’s 64-bit architecture will allow up to 160 Megabytes per second transfer rates compared to its slower 32-bit ancestor; which allows up to 132 Megabytes per second transfer rates. However, these specifications are seldom achieved due to system overhead. Actual SCSI performance for a 64-bit device will be around 140-150 Megabytes per second transfer rates whereas a 32-bit device will yield around 110-120 Megabytes per second transfer rates.


In addition to the on-board SCSI, the Master-S makes use of a feature called D-LED. The D-LED uses a graphic signal display to help the user understand his or her system. There are four LED’s embedded in the mainboard which provides up to sixteen combinations of signals to debug the system. The four LED’s can debug all problems that fail the system, such as VGA, RAM, or other failures. The feature is useful for the overclocking user as well. The user can use the feature to detect if there are any problems or failures while overclocking. This may be the only feature currently available that actually helps or promotes overclocking. For the sake of redundancy, the key features are:


Key features



  • Adaptec AIC-7899G 64-Bit, 66MHz, Dual Channel WideUltra3 SCSI

    • Currently, the Master-S is the only AMD-based solution that implements a 64-bit, 66MHz controller.
    • Under standard PCI, the host bus has a maximum speed of 66 MHz. This allows for a maximum transfer rate of 533 MB/sec across a 64-bit PCI bus. With Ultra160 SCSI, two SCSI channels on a single device achieve a maximum transfer rate of 320 MB/sec leaving plenty of overhead before saturating the PCI bus.

  • D-LED-Four LED’s embedded in the mainboard,

  • Form Factor: ATX, 30.5 cm x 2539 cm
  • Clock: 100 or 133MHz (200 or 266MHz Internal System Bus)
  • Chip Integrated Audio
  • Memory: 2DIMM. Max, up to 2GB DDR SDRAM. (Currently only 512MB DDR DIMM’s are available)
  • Slot: 1 AGP Pro slot, 1CNR slot, 5 PCI slots

  • Additional system specifications can be obtained here.


    Layout


    The Master-S is spacious and principally, well designed. Those perceptive users may note that there are three capacitors located near the 462 socket. However, this may seem like a potential problem for those looking to fasten a behemoth heatsink such as Swiftech’s MC462A or Alpha’s new PAL8045, should experience no problems. While these capacitors seem close to the 462 socket, they do though fall within AMD’s keep out area. There are two keep out areas defined by AMD for component height restrictions. More information is available here. I do appreciate the fact that the board exhibits a much-uncluttered look and feel. In addition, the power supply connector is intelligently placed with no obstruction. My only area of concern is the placement of the CMOS battery. Referencing MSI’s website shows the placement to be exactly behind PCI slot five. For troubleshooting or BIOS clearing purposes, this would make the process virtually impossible without removing one or two peripherals.


    Test Setup


    • MSI K7 Master-S (MS-6341S)

    MSI

  • 1.2GHz AMD Athlon Processor
  • Monarch Computer

  • 1-ElanVital FSCUG9C-6FC cooler
  • ElanVital

  • 2-256MB Hyundai PC2100 DDR Memory
  • Mushkin

  • 5-18GB Seagate X15 II Hard Drives (ST318452LW)
  • Hyper Microsystems

  • Microsoft WindowsXP Build 2562
  • WindowsXP


    Remarks


    1. One 18GB Seagate X15 II hard drive (ST318452LW) partitioned as boot drive

  • Dynamic Disks-striped across four-18GB Seagate X15 II Hard Drives (ST318452LW)
  • Write-back Cache Enabled
  • 64KB Block Size
  • NTFS partition (4KB)


    The Benchmarks

    • 3DMark 2001 v1.0
    • Mad Onion

    • Q3Bench Beta 1.0
    • Q3Bench

    • SPECviewperf 6_1_2
    • SPECviewperf

    • ZD Content Creation Winstone 2001 Version 1.0
    • Content Creation

    • ZD WINBENCH99 VERSION 1.2
    • Winbench99

    • CliBench MK III SMP 0.7.10
    • CliBench MK III SMP

    • ATTO Disk Benchmark 1.63
    • AttoTech

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