MSI KT3 Ultra2-BR - Page 5

..:: Layout: Northbridge Area ::..

The VT8367 Northbridge is covered by the decorative silver heatsink / fan unit emblazed with the classic holographic MSI logo. This decorative unit is outfitted with a nice clear fan for added looks, and for cooling purposes. When we removed the heatsink, we found a generous amount of white thermal paste to aid in heat transfer; however it did not cover the entire chip. It instead only covered the majority of the lower left hand corner and side. This isn’t a big problem as the heatsink itself is fully capable of keeping the VT8367 running cool. We also can see that our Northbridge is a “CE” revision chip, manufactured in the 16th week of 2002. The “CE” revision chips have been said to give better performance than previous revisions, and some manufacturers have even marketed their KT333 motherboards around the idea that they’ll be using these “CE” revision chips.

The heatsink is held on by the usual mounting system, two spring-loaded pins. Don’t plan on adding any aftermarket cooling to the Northbridge though, as there is a large batch of 2200uF capacitors along the left side along with another smaller capacitor towards the bottom of the unit. If you have a square heatsink you want to add you’re in luck, but if you’re an orb fan, you might just want to throw some better thermal paste on there and call it good. The Northbridge fan is powered by a three-pin power connection just below the unit.

..:: Layout: Expansion Slots ::..

As we continue on down the board, we come across a section that is usually packed with chips and other features, the expansion slot area. The expansion slot setup will please both enthusiasts and OEM’s alike with one AGP 4x slot, five PCI slots, and one CNR slot. This setup should be more than enough for everyone, however there are more than likely a few out there who might prefer to see a sixth PCI slot added alongside, or in place of the CNR slot. There is only one problem, the design of the motherboard would not allow this. The AGP slot comes outfitted with the usual white retention mechanism that will hold that graphics card in place.

The first two items that we come across are the Winbond System BIOS chip, and the Winbond W83697HF chip. The W83697HF chip is responsible for the monitoring of system temperature readings, fan speed readings, voltages, etc. The BIOS is located t the left of PCI Slot #1, while the Winbond W83697HF chip is located to the left of PCI Slot #2. A little farther down the board, near PCI Slot #4, we come across the Realtek ALC650 audio codec, and the 24.5MHz clock crystal.

MSI has wisely chosen to arrange the audio connectors and onboard headers along the bottom edge of the board. This is optimal positioning as it allows easy access to all connectors, and they do not block off any of the PCI slots from being used. Depending on the version of the KT3 Ultra2 that you purchase, you could see up to three analog audio connectors along the bottom of the board. On our KT3 Ultra2-BR, we only have a single black connector for CD audio in. On a different version of the board, you would also see the yellow aux in connector, and the green modem connector placed here. The large header placed to the right of the CD audio in connector is the S-Bracket header. If you plan on using the S-Bracket for your audio system instead of jack-sharing, then this is the place to plug it in.

Next up we have two small 1000uF capacitors and three more headers. The first header, a seven pin arrangement, is the header for the MSI PC2PC Bluetooth Transceiving Module. Placed to the immediate right of the Bluetooth header is a yellow USB header. This yellow header is the connection for the two USB ports on the D-Bracket 2 module. The last header we come across in the expansion slot area is yet another USB header, however this time it is blue. The blue color signifies that it is to be used with the optional USB 2.0 bracket. The only thing with this is that if you plan on using the PC2PC Bluetooth, you’ll only be able to utilize one of the ports on the USB 2.0 bracket.