Microstar International – MSI has always produced some fine motherboards. They have not been thought of as “high end” or “overclockers” types of boards…. Until now!
Thanks to Atacom I had the privilege of testing the MSI 6163 Pro Motherboard. This is the first board I have used from MSI and was very unsure of what I was going to see with this board as I have always been an Abit fan. The Soyo SY6BA+III recently achieved my “favorite” status and I didn’t think I would be able to find anything in the BX Chipset line that would change that as the life of the trusty old BX is nearing it’s end.
First Impressions and Layout
The Overall quality of the PC Board was much higher than I expected. The layout of the board was about standard for the current crop of BX Boards. The Power supply connector is placed behind the Slot 1 but offset toward the power supply side of the board. It may interfere with “sandwich” style coolers, but I have no way of confirming it.
There are 3 Dimm slots and using a cooler like the Alpha P125 (PII and Celeron) WILL render the first 2 Dimm slots useless. The PIII Alpha will also render them useless. The Alpha Socket 7/370 cooler mounted on a slocket will totally block the first 2 Dimms and come VERY close to contacting the 3rd Dimm. The Global Win FDP32 is the same height as the Alpha Socket 7/370 so it is in the same boat. The Global Win CPM-25603-32 blocks the first Dimm but the CPM-25603-12 barely allows the use of this first Dimm slot due to the slightly shorter fan. This, in my opinion, is a MAJOR “shame on you” to MSI.
This board is just packed with features. You can check out the MSI Website for the full list as I will only outline a few of the major ones here. The particular board I reviewed allowed vcore voltage adjustments of 2.0, 2.05, 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3. You can also adjust the BX chipset voltages at 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6. CPU ratios available are 3X to 8X in .5 increments. Bus speeds available are 66, 75, 78, 81, 83, 90, 95, 100, 105, 110, 112, 115, 117, 120, 122, 124, 126, 133, 135, 138, 140, 142, 144, 150, 155. The CPU Plug and Play III in the Bios also lets you turn on and off monitoring of System temps, Fan speeds and 10 system voltages including Cmos battery voltage and 5v Stand by voltage.
There are also 4 dual color (Green, red) LED’s mounted by the 5th PCI slot that by reading the color combination and matching to a chart in the included manual can help you diagnose a non-booting PC. This is a nice touch.
Three system temps are monitored, System temp, CPU temp (Via a diode which contacts the heatsink) and a supplied Thermal Diode which can be placed almost anywhere you desire. Would have been nice to measure the internal diode of the CPU as does the Soyo SY6BA+III and the early BX6R2’s.
The Software bundle included is one of the best I have seen for a Motherboard. Along with the normal Bus Master drivers, you also get a few VERY useful utilities: PC Alert – this is a utility to monitor the “health” of your system Voltages, Temps and Fans (Like Motherboard Monitor); Soft Cooler – This is like CPU Idle or Rain; MSI Bus Racing – A combo of SoftFSB and WCPUID. There are a few others for accelerating Display and other stuff.
The performance of this board in on par with other BX chipset boards. Stability is awesome as well. I was able to run this board with good stability all the way to 150 FSB with my Unlocked PII 400 and a stick of Corsair PC133 Ram (Thanks PCNUT for the PC133 Ram!).
As far as features and stability, in my mind this would be the BEST BX chipset board available right now. There are 2 things that really bother me with this board. No UDMA/66 support and the Cooling issue described above. The heatsink issue is the worst, there is no way around this unless you use a low profile cooler on your Celeron, PII, PIII or slocket mounted PPGA. If you only run 1 stick of ram, this is not really an issue but will rule out adding anymore down the road.
This review and comments are just my personal observations and
opinion. As with any products and services, please research throughly
before making any purchases. The reviewer and overclockers.com shall not
and will not be held liable for any damages cause by products reviewed in