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 Guide, Dual Power for under $2000
By: Steffen Scheibler, September 18, 2002  Print this article


Putting all the parts all the parts together was a non-event. Everything basically worked right out of the box. The MSI Master board works in SMP with all XPs up to XP2000 that I have ever tried, and also works with non-registered (un-buffered) RAM in memory-slots 1 and 2. Memory-slot 3 and 4 only take registered modules and the largest un-buffered DIMM my motherboard accepted was 512MB. I got hold of a Kingston 1024MB un-buffered DIMM (would you believe they cost €1500!) and it did not work. The board wouldn’t even POST.

One HDD went into the onboard IDE controller as primary master, the DVD and CD-RW into the secondary onboard IDE, and the remaining two HDDs went in RAID0 on the FastTrak controller. The FastTrak TX2000 controller can run in 32-bit/66MHz PCI, so I stuck that in one of the faster PCI slots. The MSI has two 64-bit, 66MHz capable slots. Everything else went in the only places they can go. I set all the fans to their lowest speed and have to say I was quite surprised at how quiet having 10 fans in your computer can be. The loudest fan is on the GeForce4, and even that could be fixed using a ThermalTake blue orb.

Two different CPUs in SMP

Two different CPUs in SMP

One nice feature about the MSI board, and indeed all MPX boards, is the independent CPU bus architecture. You can put two different CPUs in your system, meaning you can put an XP 1400 in with an XP 1800 CPU. This allows you a more flexible upgrade path. If you currently own an XP system you can use that XP CPU and simply buy a faster one to go with it rather than having to buy two new CPUs. Rather nifty.

Installing Windows 2000 went without a problem, although my ISP decided to be a pain in the butt while I was trying to patch using the Windows-update site. The latest drivers for the mainboard and chipset, as well as onboard AC’97 audio are available on the AMD website, an all the other hardware also has updated drivers on the web. The installation took about the usual number of cups of coffee.

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