MSI K7TPro2A--Issues

These are the major ones I’ve found so far. The bad news is they exist. The good news is there’s a happy ending at the end of most of these issues.

Multiplier Issues

There’s definitely a problem here, this is not a matter of a bad pencil job (though if you run into this, that should be something you should check; the pencil marks do wear off). I thoroughly recoated my TBird before testing. Besides, if the pencil connections really weren’t there, they wouldn’t work at all, or just work sporadically. Not the case here.

A number of you have reported this on the K7T and also on the KT133. This tells me this is probably a Via chipset issue.

This board does consistently give me the wrong multiplier initially when I change it. When I crashed once (more on that later), the same thing also occurred once.

You should follow the procedures I described here to take care of that problem. The only thing I’d add to that article is that
sometimes the machine does the right thing after the cold boot, without having to set the BIOS twice.

In practice, this is just a small annoyance.

Memory Issues

Some have complained the memory scores on this board are bad. That isn’t quite the case; it’s how you get to the right settings that are a bit counterintuitive.

Most of you would probably want to run your PC133 RAM at 133Mhz on this board. You might think the way to do that is to pick manual settings rather than let the machine decide what to do by SPD, and you would be wrong, just like I was initially wrong.

Set the memory manually, and you get memory scores from Sandra like 402/470. The reason why they’re bad is that MSI doesn’t really let you manually determine everything, and gives you less optimal settings on a few items.

If you let the motherboard determine by SPD, and your memory is in fact PC133 CAS2 RAM; it will in fact run it just that way with 4-way interleaving (at least that’s what WPCREDIT says, BTW, you can use the KX133 PCR as a guide in figuring out what the settings are on your KT board), and give you memory scores more like what you’d expect.

If your memory isn’t “officially” those wonderful specs, but you can run it that way on other boards; then you have a problem.

Earlier versions of the BIOS (I was using BIOS 2.01) did let you play with the RAM settings a bit more; I’d personally stay away if I were just pushing the RAM.

Hard drive issues

The official (as of right now) Via drivers don’t really support ATA100. You end up with hard drives in PIO mode, which you really don’t want.

Fortunately, you can now download unofficial drivers that will do the trick. Had no problem with them in Win98; big problems with Win2K. For some strange reason, Win2K
decided I wasn’t authorized to make such changes (even though it never complained about me making all other sorts of driver updates). Give yourself the appropriate permissions.

In Win2K, it will do something odd, it will rename your IDE devices SCSI devices.

Sporadic instability

I’ve been having some problems shutting down and booting into Win2K every once in a while; usually after I’ve changed something. (I’ve got the MS quick fix hard drives already installed). It settles down after a reboot or two, and outside of that, it’s been pretty
stable, but it’s something to keep an eye on as I test further.

The Sticker That Wasn’t Hiding Anything

When we got the board, we noticed the board said “MSI K7T Pro2,” not Pro2A. We also noticed that the Southbridge had this “ATA100″ sticker on it. Hmmmm. In the middle of my IDE travails in Win2K; I decided to look for scandal and pull the sticker.

Scandalmongers will be sad to hear that the right 686B Southbridge is there under the sticker. :)

What Goes First?

I followed the installation order found
here. You could do worse than to do the same.

More of an overview and benchmarking tomorrow.

Email Ed


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