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MSI K7T266 Pro KT266 Motherboard Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Layout and Features

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The MSI K7T266 Pro motherboard offers a considerable amount of features in a good layout. Starting at the top of the PCB, we find an excellent location for the ATX power connector. Very close to the PS/2 and USB connectors and father away from the CPU socket than most, this location gives the user the most possible area for the large ATX cable keeping it out of the way of the other vital components. The Socket A for the Athlon or Duron processors has ample room for large heatsinks to be installed. To the left or the right of the socket, there is about 3/4 of an inch or spare room, more than I have seen on any other competitive motherboard.

The KT266 north bridge is covered by a low-profile orange heatsink attached only by a piece of thermal tape. While this isn’t the most sturdy implementation of a heatsink, because the north bridge is low on heat and power use, the small heatsink should be more than enough. The 3 DDR SDRAM slots position the right of the chipset provide the standard allotment of upgrade opportunities. While some motherboards using the AMD 760 chipset have offered 4 DDR slots, you need to use registered DDR SDRAM to take advantage of all four. Since most of us don’t use registered memory, this benefit is somewhat lost to most users. The standard two ATA/100 ATA ports and floppy port are above the half way mark of the board and that could hinder in-case installations and upgrades slightly.

The expansion configuration of the MSI K7T266 Pro motherboard is in a 5/0/1/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP/CNR) configuration. The AGP slot is in fact an AGP Pro slot with an added feature of a 4-pin ATX style connector that will be used to supply the AGP Pro video cards, if and when they are released to the consumer, with the high amount of power they require. As always, I would have preferred to see a sixth PCI slot instead of the nearly useless CNR slot. Some OEMs and custom system builders may take advantage of the CNR, most of the business AMD gets in the consumer market would probably have more use for the extra PCI slot.

The bottom right hand corner of the motherboard has a lot of interesting features. First, the AMI bios and south bridge are located there as is the Promise 265R IDE RAID chipset. Using the chipset, MSI included two additional ATA/100 IDE ports which can be used for a RAID 0 setup (stripping). RAID configurations are becoming more and more popular for the home user as the price of hard drives continues to plummet. Also interesting to note is the inclusion of an on-board system speaker, located just below the bottom IDE port. This prevents the need to have one in the case, and makes installation just that much easier as there is one less cable to find and connect.