MSI KT3 Ultra2-BR - Page 6

..:: Layout: Southbridge & Memory Areas ::..

The area around the VT8235 Southbridge is yet another area packed full of headers and other items. Along the bottom edge of the board, weíll come across the front panel audio header. This header is the one with the two green jumpers located on it. If you plan on using the front panel audio connector, remove these jumpers and plug it in. If you donít plan on using it, leave them as they are. Next to the front panel audio header is the system buzzer, followed by the infrared module header, Wake-On-Ring header, front panel headers for your LEDís and switches, and the D-Bracket 2 connector for the LEDís. All of these items are neatly arranged and in good positioning.

Located just above the headers and buzzer are the two yellow IDE connectors for the onboard Promise RAID controller. Speaking of which, the Promise PDC20276 chip is located to the left of the yellow IDE connectors with three small capacitors around it. The only downside to this controller, as mentioned previously, is that it lacks support for RAID 0+1. Just above the IDE connectors, we come across the VT8235 Southbridge, the clear CMOS jumper, and a three-pin power connector. The CMOS jumper is too close to the fan header and it can be a bit of a pain at times to get a hold of.

Last up in the Southbridge area of the board, we find a small chip that resembles an audio codec. It doesnít say too much on it, however it has the MSI symbol on it, and a product number. Iíd guess that this is more than likely the Bluetooth controller; however Iím not quite sure. One thing of major interest is next to the system battery. If you take a look at the silk screening, youíll see that the board supports processors with 333MHz FSBís. It also says that there should be two switches or jumpers to set in order to adjust the FSB of the board. These jumpers are not actually implemented into the board; however you can see where they would be positioned by looking at the silk screening by the CMOS jumper. See the SW1 and SW2? This is where the jumper sets would go if they were actually implemented into the board.

The two yellow IDE connectors and the floppy connector are nicely arranged along the edge of the board. To the left of the connectors are the three DIMM slots. The DIMM slots on the KT3 Ultra2 have a small amount of room in-between each. This will allow for use with memory that uses larger heat spreaders without having to put any unnecessary pressure on the RAM when it is in place. The DIMMís can be a bit hard to change when an AGP graphics card is mounted in the system, but it can be done. Youíll just have to ever so slightly push the clip down along with the corner of the graphics card itself and youíll be able to swap RAM if ever needed. The last things we come across are located along the top edge of the board, those being the CPU fan power connector, and the power connector for the PSU fan. Each of these three-pin connectors is ideally placed and should be easy to get to when needed.

Overall the design of the MSI KT3 Ultra2 line of motherboards is pretty good. I canít think of any real qualms off the top of my head except for the CMOS jumper being too close to the fan header; however that isnít a big deal, just a personal preference. The board will surely attract attention to itself with the blazing red PCB, bright yellow IDE connectors, and of course the silver Northbridge fan. If you have a window in your case, this board would surely add more eye candy to your system. Well, now that weíve seen the board and its features, itís time to get down to business. Letís take a look at the BIOS, then get down to the benchmarks!