So let’s start off with the AMD XP 2200+. The true clock speed of the 2200+ is 1.8GHz. As you probably know by now, AMD changed their marketing of their chips to reflect how the performance relates to Intel’s chips. The chip is manufactured at a 0.13-micron process, which is a die-shrink from their previous chips. The smaller die means cooler performance and less voltage needed to run the CPU. The Socket A processor front side bus speed is still at 266MHz and the voltage needed to make the processor hum is 1.65V. In comparison, my Duron 1.2GHz needed 1.76V to work. So I have a faster processor that should run cooler and utilizing less power with AMD’s move to the smaller die size. I’d make sure to check with your board manufacturer to see if it is compatible and sometimes it just needs a BIOS update to get it to work.
Let’s move onto the motherboard. This is my first MSI board having used Tyan, ASUS, and ABIT for most of my past upgrades. I’ve seen many good reviews on the MSI board so I decided too take the plunge. I was looking for a good motherboard with USB 2.0 support and the KT3 Ultra2 has that and much more. For starters, the board sports the VIA KT333 chipset for the northbridge and the VIA VT8235 chipset for the southbridge. The VT8235 has integrated Direct Sound AC97 audio, dual channel Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 master mode EIDE controller, ACPI, and integrated USB 2.0 controller. There are three memory slots supporting 184-pin DDR DIMMs and with each holding a maximum of 1GB of ram for a maximum total of 3GB of ram. For expansion slots, there are five PCI slots, one AGP slot, and one Communication Network riser slot. Two IDE connectors give you up to four IDE device connections. For those who want to use Bluetooth, the KT3 Ultra2 offers an onboard Bluetooth connector that can be used by purchasing the Bluetooth module. USB 2.0 has a data rate of 480Mb/s compared to USB 1.1’s data rate of 12Mb/s and it’s backward compatible. The package includes a USB2.0 bracket that installs into one of the case slots and connects to the onboard connector. The bracket also has four LEDs that help diagnose problems with your computer. The combination of LEDs will let you know the status of your computer giving you an easy view of any problems that are occurring. Of course you’ll need easy access to the back of your computer to see this so maybe MSI should produce an indicator that fits on the front of the computer instead. The onboard sound offers 2, 4, or 6 channel sound and with the optional sound bracket you can also connect the computer to a receiver via an optical SPDIF jack.
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