This evening we will be taking a look at the new KT3 Ultra
ARU motherboard from MSI. This is the first of what
will surely become a long line of motherboards to
incorporate the new VIA
KT333 chipset. The new chipset offers a number of new
features to help propel its performance beyond that of the
popular KT266A. In addition, the system comes with the
VIA VT8233A Southbridge
chipset which brings a number of new standards to the table
claim to fame of the new
VIA KT333 Chipset is the
added support for PC2700 DDR RAM, allowing for 2.7GB of
memory bandwidth at 333MHz. Coupled with the Northbridge, the VIA
VT8233A Southbridge offers support for USB 2.0, which
increases transfers from 12Mb per second with USB 1.1 to
400Mb per second with USB 2.0. The new ATA133 standard
is also incorporated into
the Southbridge, providing IDE burst rates of up to 133MBs
per second with ATA133 compliant hard drives installed.
MSI is one of the first
motherboard manufacturers to incorporate VIA's new chipset.
What they came up with is a motherboard that offers both
performance and new features that should make it a stand-out
product in an otherwise crowded market. It's
quite obvious from the start that MSI has taken great
strides to put together a complete system. So, let's
take a look at the details of this new KT333 based
motherboard and then we'll go over its features in more
Specifications of the
A Real Gem....
Supports DDR266/333 (PC 2100/2700)
Supports ATA-133 IDE Hard Drive
Fuzzy Logic 3
Promise IDE RAID
Integrated Audio (6-channel codec)
Socket A (Socket 462) for AMD Athlon/ Athlon XP /
Support 600MHz up to 2000+ MHz processor and higher
VIA KT333 chipset. (North-Bridge 552 BGA)
AGP 4x and PCI Advanced high performance memory
VIA VT8233A chipset. (South-Bridge 376 BGA)
High Bandwidth V-link Client controller.
Integrated Faster Ethernet LPC. (Optional CNR card
Integrated Hardware SoundBlaster/Direct Sound AC97
Ultra DMA 66/100/133 master mode PCI EIDE
Supports 100/133/166 MHz FSB
Three 184-pin DDR DIMM.
Maximum memory size up to 3GB.
Supports 2.5v DDR SDRAM DIMM.
RAID On-Board Controller
Support ATA133 IDE RAID 0 or 1
The two IDE RAID connectors support hard drives
Note: only two hard disk drives will adopt RAID
One CNR (Communication Network Riser).
One AGP 4X slot.
Five PCI 2.2 32-bit Master PCI bus slots.
Supports 3.3v/5v PCI bus interface.
An IDE controller on the VIA VT8233A chipset
provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and
Ultra DMA 66/100/133 operation modes.
Can connect up to four IDE devices.
Chip Integrated (6-channel S/W audio).
Direct Sound AC'97 Audio.
6-channel analog output.
1 Floppy port supports 2 FDD with 360K, 720K,
1.2M, 1.44M and 2.88Mbytes.
2 Serial ports (COM A + COM B), 1 Parallel port
supports SPP/EPP/ECP mode.
1 IrDA connector for SIR/ASKIR/HPSIR.
1 Audio/Game port.
1 D-Bracket pinheader.
1 S-Bracket pinheader.
4x USB 2.0 ports
4x USB 1.1 ports
The mainboard BIOS provides AMI "Plug & Play" Flash
BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and
expansion cards of the board automatically.
The mainboard provides a Desktop Management
Interface(DMI) function which records your mainboard
ATX Form Factor.
is a list of the items that accompany the
- 40-pin 80 Conductor UDMA 100 Ribbon Cable
1 - Floppy Ribbon Cable
2 - MSI Support CDs with Drivers and Utilities
1 - MSI DVD 5.1CH CD
1 - Audio S-Bracket Analog/SPDIF outputs
1 - 2 Port USB D-Bracket w/LED
1 - 4 Port USB 2.0 Bracket
1 - Quick User's Guide
1 - D-LED Guide
1 - MSI Case Badge
The MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU is one impressive board right out of
the gate. With a plethora of features and a spiffy red
PCB, the board immediately grabs your attention with its
quality appearance and craftsmanship. It is clear that
MSI has taken the extra step here to assure customer
satisfaction. The package comes with a good complement
of utilities and support software as well as all hardware
needed to take full advantage of the system's potential.
The Drivers/Software CD has a clean and easy to follow menu
that gives you easy access to all of the software on the
disk. Whether you need to install drivers or want to
try some of the utilities included on the disk, it is all
easily accessed through an intuitive menu.
Live Update BIOS
One of the more
helpful applications included on the CD is the MSI Live
Update Utility. Live Update checks the systems current
BIOS and driver versions and notifies you if any updated
versions are available. With a simple click, all of
the files needed are downloaded and installed in one smooth
I must say that
I do have mixed feelings about this. Downloading
drivers is one thing, but downloading and updating the BIOS
through Windows sounds a bit risky to me. When you
flash the BIOS from a boot disk, minimal system functions
are running, minimizing the potential for something to go
wrong. If the BIOS is updated while Windows is
running, there are a lot of variables that could effect the
flash, which would render the board useless. We did run the Live Update during testing and it worked
flawlessly. However, we've heard stories of other
readers who have used similar utilities with other products
and they killed their board, even though the process
appeared to complete without error. When it comes to
flashing the BIOS, I recommend using the boot disk technique
to play it safe. Regardless, especially for the novice
users out there, this is a nice complement to the product.
has put together a fine package to accompany a fine looking
motherboard but we all know that you can't judge a book by
its cover. So let us roll up our sleeves and delve a
little deeper, taking a closer look at the MSI KT3 Ultra-ARU's
Setup and the BIOS