iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU (VIA KT333) Mainboard

The MSI boards on the new VIA's chipset have PCBs similar to the KT266A based models. We got a model which is the richest in functions in its line.


  • Package: a standard design;
  • Documentation: a user manual and an installation manual for IDE RAID - both in English;
  • Cables: 2 ATA66/100 and 1 FDD;
  • D-Bracket;
  • S-Bracket for the rear panel with audio-outs;
  • Bracket with 4 USB ports;
  • CD with software including:
    • drivers;
    • AMI and Award utilities for operation with Suspend-To-Disk function;
    • WinFlash from Award for flashing BIOS from Windows;
    • LiveBIOS;
    • Fuzzy Logic 3;
    • PC Alert;
    • MSI DVD Player;
    • GoodMem;
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader;
    • X-Setup - for adjusting most of parameters from Windows;
    • PC-Cillin 2000 - anti-virus suite;
    • 3Deep - for color adjustment;
    • VNC - for remote computer access.

The layout is not very good: audio-ins are located near the CNR slot at the PCB's edge, IDE RAID connectors are behind the PCI slots, a power connector is between the socket and the outputs to the rear panel, and if the board is installed it's difficult to reach the DIMMs. But it's easy to reach jumpers even when the board is already installed. Functions of almost all jumpers and switches are shown on the textolite.

The 2-channel switching voltage regulator incorporates 6 capacitors of 2200 uF and 5 of 1200 uF.

The following controllers are integrated: an audio one based on the chipset's capabilities and the AC'97 codec Avance Logic ALC650 meant for 6-channel acoustic systems; an IDE RAID controller based on the Promise PDC20276 chip which allows building RAID arrays of 0 and 1 levels; a USB 2.0 controller on the NEC D720100AS1 chip.

Non-unsoldered connectors: none as this is the most full-featured model in the line.

The system monitoring is supported by the W83697HF chip from Winbond. Processor voltage (+/-3.3, +/-5 and +/-12 V), speed of 2 fans and temperatures of the processor (a built-in sensor), and of the board (a built-in sensor) can be controlled. There are 2 connectors for adjustable connection of fans and 1 for non-adjustable.

Brief characteristics of the board: memory slots - 3 DDR SDRAM; expansion slots - AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR; I/O ports - 2 COM/ LPT/ 2 PS/2/ 4 USB 1.1/ 4 USB 2.0; dimensions - 305x235 mm.

Adjustment can be carried out with:

jumpers and switches Jumper to clear up the CMOS
Jumper to choose a mode of the IDE RAID controller ATA133/IDE RAID
BIOS based on the ver.3.31a from AMI Setup of memory timings + CAS Latency, RAS Pulse Width, Row Precharge Time, RAS to CAS Delay, Burst Length, 1T Command, Fast Command
Setup of memory frequency + SPD, HCLK, HCLK+33
Setup of AGP bus +
Setup of PCI bus +
Changeable scaler of AGP and PCI buses -
Manual assignment of interrupts +
Changeable FSB frequency + in 1 MHz steps, 100-220 MHz
Changeable CPU multiplier + x6-x15
Changeable core voltage + 1.725-1.85V, 0.025V step
Changeable memory voltage + Auto, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8 V
Changeable chipset voltage -
Changeable AGP bus voltage + Auto, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8 V

We used the latest available version of the BIOS - 5.1.

This is an excellent solution for those who prefers all in one. Although the speed is not the highest here, it can be forced up without making it less stable as the range of BIOS settings is very great.

Test results:

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