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    MSI GNB Max-FISR (E7205) Motherboard Review
    By Vince Freeman :  March 5, 2003


    The Intel Pentium 4 is the most bandwidth-hungry desktop processor, and when running at 533 MHz, it simply overwhelms even DDR400 platforms. For a long time the only answer was the i850 and i850E, which used dual-channel RDRAM to match the Pentium 4's bandwidth needs, though both price and unavailability of high-density modules proved troublesome. Even then, the i850E did not support AGP 8X, and its feature set could be kindly referred to as a bit long in the tooth. Power users wanted high memory bandwidth, but also current specifications like AGP 8X, USB 2.0, Serial ATA and Firewire.

    The answer to this dilemma came from an unlikely source, the Intel E7205 workstation chipset. This product was originally not intended for desktop use, but companies took one look at the specs and jumped on board. These features include dual-channel DDR266, AGP 8X and all the fixing of the new ICH4 Southbridge component. One of these companies is MSI, and their GNB Max-FISR is an intriguing combination of power and features with some overclocking options thrown in for good measure.

    Intel E7205 Chipset Features

    The Intel E7205 chipset is a great match for 533 MHz Pentium 4 processors, while using standard, inexpensive DDR266 memory. This means the memory controller supplies 4.3 GB/sec of bandwidth, which matches that of the Pentium 4 533 MHz CPU bus. The E7205 is also equivalent to the memory bandwidth of an i850E running PC1066 RDRAM, creating an equivalent performance platform for the DDR crowd.

    The actual memory design of the E7205 is a bit different than the dual-channel architecture of the nForce (which features two distinct channels) and instead creates a single 128-bit "physical module" when a matched pair of DDR modules is installed. This format is simply a different angle to dual-channel memory, and has the same performance as two separate memory channels, except the E7205 has an expansive 4GB memory limit, and does not have the need for an arbiter chip.

    If that is where the chip begins and ends, then it wouldn't be much of a story, and the E7205 keeps up the heat with a current feature set and support for some of the newest and fastest technologies. These include AGP 8X, and integrated LAN, Audio and USB 2.0 through the ICH4 Southbridge.

    The following is a chart that offers a more detailed look at the Intel E7205 chipset design, including its dual-channel memory architecture, bus speeds and features:

    In this review we will be taking a detailed examination of the MSI GNB Max-FISR, including its features, overclocking options, performance and even value, and then offering up our overall conclusion. If you are looking for a high-end motherboard with a current feature set, then the E7205 and MSI just might have the ticket.

  • Page 1 Introduction
    Page 2 The MSI GNB Max-FISR
    Page 3 Performance and Test Systems
    Page 4 Business / CC Winstone & SANDRA Performance
    Page 5 PCMark 2002, 3DMark 2001 & UT 2003 Performance
    Page 6 Quake 3, Jedi Knight II, Comanche 4, etc. Performance
    Page 7 Benchmark Analysis, Value and Conclusion

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