Pentium 4 with Dual DDR: Endurance Test of Seven Motherboards with the Granite Bay Chipset

MSI MS-6565, Alias GNB Max

Board Revision: 2

BIOS Version: 2.0 (November 21, 2002)

At first glance, it would be easy to think that MSI was trying to emulate Gigabyte in its variety of features - but of course, GNB Max has nothing to do with its competitor.

Yet it works equally impressively: in addition to the standard features (five PCI, AGP 8x, UltraATA/ 100) this board offers a whole lot more. Thus MSI relies on a full PCI sound chip (C-Media CMI8738) instead of on an AC97 codec. It won't be sidelined on the network controller, either: nothing but a Gigabit Ethernet controller from Intel (82540EM) will do. A FireWire controller from VIA (VT6303) and an IDE RAID controller from Promise (PDC20376) complete the outfit. It offers an UltraATA/ 133 and two serial ATA ports.

MSI includes two modules: the first one, a D-bracket, offers another USB port, a Bluetooth module and D-LED, which is MSI's debugging system. This allows the system status to be determined using four LEDs and a table. So if the computer doesn't start, in many cases you no longer need to bother with searching for the culprit. The second module, an S bracket, has additional connectors for the sound system, including digital outs.

The current BIOS from the MSI website offers no possibility for overclocking. However, a beta BIOS version that we have used before did offer this possibility. Whether with or without overclocking features, MSI provides a small software tool that allows the highest stable CPU speed to be determined. All in all, a nice perk; however, the program does not do away with the necessity for thorough testing (at least several hours at full capacity), but simply allows the upper limit of your processor to be found.

MSI now also offers the option of updating the BIOS directly in Windows. No one tells you this when you download the BIOS, however.

MSI, too, provides you with serial ATA: a controller chip from Promise is concealed behind a white sticker, and offers a conventional ATA port and two serial ATA ports.