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21 Slot-1 Motherboards using VIA Chipsets

MSI MS-6199

Board Revision: 2

BIOS Version: 3.3 (March 16, 2000)

This is one of the very few boards that come with two IDE cables. The manual provides a lot of information regarding hardware and BIOS setup. Let's take a quick look at the "usual" hardware before going into more interesting features: Five PCI slots, two ISA slots, three DIMM sockets, decent CPU locks, IR port, 2 serial, 1 parallel, two USB ports, three fan headers, and an optional sound chip.

MSI is the only company, which really makes use of their status LEDs. The four LEDs can indicate 16 different statuses, depending on which LEDs light. This way you can easily see what the computer is doing when booting: Memory test, initialization of the keyboard controller or CPU initialization are only three examples.

This board also has an on-board PC speaker, which can be enabled by setting a jumper. It's a pity that this board only uses the 693A chipset. That's why it does not know AGP 4x. MSI tries to impress by even more features: FSB speeds can be chosen in quite small increments between 66 and 153 MHz. The monitoring features are very detailed as well. Apart from the usual voltage and temperature monitoring, you can also plug in the 20cm thermistor to check the temperature of the chipset North Bridge or the AGP chip. This feature is called Top Tech II and can be enabled in the BIOS menu "CPU Plug & Play III". That's where you can also raise the I/O voltage to 3.4, 3.5 or 3.6V.

I really liked the design as everything has been placed where you would want it to be. According to the manual, 512 MByte DIMMs are supported to enable a maximum SDRAM size of 1.5 GByte. If you want, you may also use ECC memory.

Looking at the performance numbers you will see that the 6199 is the second fastest 693A motherboard. In combination with lots of attractive features, this board is one of the hotshots indeed. If only the 693A chip would be replaced by the 694X..