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MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU motherboard
By CPU-zilla
Category : Mainboard
Published by Jimmy Tang on Monday, 29th April, 2002
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars  
Price : SGD295

What We Liked

First off, there's the Promise ATA133 RAID controller based on the PDC20276 chip. It offers users a rather simple RAID setup with either RAID 0 or RAID 1. Of course, if you would prefer just a normal ATA133 IDE controller, you can always switch it to ATA133 mode instead of RAID. That will add another four hard disk drives to your system. In this day and age when storage is so cheap, I don't see how most power users can live without an on-board controller for extra storage. If you're not prepared to use it yet, it can also be disabled in the BIOS and boot-up will be much faster without the controller looking for drives.

The Promise ATA133/RAID controller and its IDE connectors right beside it.

USB 2.0 is fast becoming the next connectivity standard due mainly to its large 480Mbps bandwidth and this is something you won't miss with the KT3 Ultra-ARU. Based on the NEC controller, you can be sure that it will work seamlessly with Windows. Although Windows XP is the recommended operating system for USB 2.0, MSI has driver support for older operating systems like Windows 98SE, Me and 2000 too. The USB 2.0 ports are located on board and MSI has supplied a USB 2.0 bracket which can be hooked to the board easily via its idiot-proof color connectors. Since USB 2.0 is backward compatible with USB 1.1 devices, you don't have to worry about replacing older devices. If you want to keep your USB 2.0 ports for just high-speed devices, there are still USB 1.1 ports located at the I/O ports at the rear-end of the motherboard. There's also another USB 1.1 header for two additional ports which can be connected using the D-Bracket supplied with the board. The D-Bracket also features MSI's ever-popular D-LED diagnostic tool.

The NEC USB 2.0 controller used on the KT3 Ultra-ARU.

For the overclockers, the board comes with all the necessary tweaks and adjustments that will keep them busy for a while. FSB settings are available at 1MHz steps from 100MHz to an incredible 220MHz. CPU core voltage settings are also tweakable via the BIOS and you could increase the voltages from 1.725V to 1.850V in 0.025V micro-steps. The voltage range offered on the KT3 Ultra-ARU is based on what we got with the Athlon XP CPU and the range would be a little different with a lower voltage CPU. Too bad MSI did not enable the full range of voltages for the hardcore tweakers. There's also the DDR voltage adjustment which should allow one to increase the chances of increasing the DDR memory clock speed. Options include AUTO, 2.6V, 2.7V and 2.8V. For those who intend to overclock their AGP cards, you'll be happy to know there are adjustments for the AGP port voltage too. Options from AUTO, 1.6V, 1.7V and 1.8V are available through the BIOS. The chipset is also blessed with a cool aluminium cooler to keep its temperatures low. This will undoubtedly help overclockers reach better clock speeds.

The chipset fan is kind of attractive with its silver finishing and colorful holograms.

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