iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






MSI 648 Max (SiS648) Mainboard

This snazzy board has loads of controllers (only an IDE RAID is missing). We've got a preproduction sample, and it came without Bluetooth modules, but the production ones will have them supplied. 


  • Package: cardboard box laminated with yellow and green lustrous coating; 
  • Documentation: user manual, installation manual for PC2PC Bluetooth, guide for assembling a computer - all in English; 
  • Cables: 1 ATA66/100/133 and FDD; 
  • S-Bracket; 

  • D-Bracket; 

  • 2 CDs containing: 
    • drivers; 
    • DirectX 8.1; 
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader; 
    • VNC; 
    • 3Deep; 
    • PC-Cillin 2000; 
    • X-Setup; 
    • MSI DVD; 
    • MSI Fuzzy Logic (for automatic CPU overclocking); 
    • MSI GoodMem (for optimization of system memory); 
    • MSI InfoView (displays information in system devices); 
    • MSI i-Speeder (for optimization of the Internet access and monitoring of network connections); 
    • MSI Live Update 2 (for automatic drivers and BIOS updates); 
    • MSI LockBox (to restrict a computer access); 
    • MSI PCAlert III (system monitoring); 
    • MSI SecureDoc (file encryption); 
    • MSI SmartKey ( paot co SmartKey). 

The layout is not devoid of the usual drawbacks: audio-ins are in front of the PCI slots and IDE and FDD connectors are behind them, and when a video card is installed it's difficult to handle the memory modules. But it's not difficult to reach the only jumper when the board is already installed. Its function is shown on the textolite.

The 2-channel switching voltage regulator incorporates 4 capacitors of 2200 uF and 4 of 1500 uF. 

The following controllers are integrated: 

  • audio controller based on the chipset's capabilities and Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec supporting 5.1 audio systems; 
  • network controller based on the Broadcom BCM5702CKFB chip and supporting 10BaseT/100BaseTX/1000BaseT. 
Non-unsoldered connectors: CNR slot. 

The system monitoring is supported by the Winbond W83697HF chip. What is controlled: 

  • processor voltage, +3.3, +-5 and +-12 V and VBAT; 
  • speed of 2 fans; 
  • temperatures of the processor (a built-in sensor) and the board (a built-in sensor).
There are 2 connectors for adjustable connection of fans. 

Brief characteristics of the board: memory slots - 3 DDR SDRAM; expansion slots - AGP/ 6 PCI; I/O ports - 2 COM/ LPT/ 2 PS/2/ 6 USB 2.0; dimensions - 305x220 mm.  

Adjustment can be carried out with:

jumpers and switchesJumper to clear up the CMOS 
BIOS based on v.3.31a from AMISetup of memory timings+CAS Latency, Timing Setting Mode, MA 1T/2T Select, Host to Memory Latency
Setup of memory frequency+by SPD, CPU:DRAM = 1:1, 1:2, 2:3, 10:9, 3:4, 3:5, 4:5, 5:6, 8:9, 2:1, 3:2, 5:2, 4:3, 5:3, 5:4, 6:5
Setup of AGP bus- 
Setup of PCI bus+ 
Changeable scaler of AGP and PCI buses+AGP(PCIx2) = 66, 68, 70, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80 MHz
Manual assignment of interrupts+ 
Changeable FSB frequency+100-200 MHz in 1MHz steps
Changeable CPU multiplier+x8-x24
Changeable core voltage+1.475-1.6 V in 0.025V steps
Changeable memory voltage+2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8 V
Changeable chipset voltage- 
Changeable AGP bus voltage- 

We used the latest available version of the BIOS - BIOS 1.0. 

This is a noteworthy candidate, it sports an interesting feature set, and the manufacturer has integrated all impressive possibilities in choosing of memory frequency supported by the chipset, which can help a lot in case of DDR400 modules of inferior quality. 

Test results: 

Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com

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