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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.28.00]
Manufactured by: MSI


Getting a Duron or T-Bird? Check This:

AMDers rejoice! AMD's half-assed half cache processor is finally going away! The half-speed external cache is one of the larger reasons the Athlon simply couldn't compete with Intel's P3 as "The Best Damned CPU" for most of this year.  AMD is never one to sit on its laurels and let the other guy win for long, so they went ahead and produced a new version of its Athlon, codenamed Thunderbird.  AMD also unleashed some competition to Intel's awesome Celeron II, the Duron.

With the new CPUs though, in new form factors, you are going to need to change your motherboard as well.  Like Intel, AMD decided to cut costs by releasing their chips in a socketed format, very similar to Intel's flip-chip design (are we seeing a trend here?).  With the full speed integrated cache, AMD is finally making a chip that not only is competitive to Intel CPU's but beats them in some cases! I don't want to drag on about CPU's though, but just know that if you are planning on buying a Thunderbird or Duron Socket-A CPU, you're going to need a motherboard based on:

VIA's KT133 Chipset

Let's face it... Buying a chipset made by the CPU manufacturers is a thing of the past.  Intel has failed to produce anything worth our time since the 440BX, and we all know the nightmares of incompatibility with all of AMD's chipsets... It's nice to have someone who, for the most part, can provide us with WHAT WE WANT.  Speed, stability, and compatibility.  Thanks VIA! Here's their KT133 for Athlons and Durons:

The KT133 gives us everything we're used to seeing on VIA's Intel solutions: ATA/66, AGP 4x, support for the latest CPU's, and crappy integrated audio, among other things.  For a full list of features on this particular motherboard, check out MSI's K7T Pro Product Page.

The K7T Pro is a typical modern motherboard... 3 DIMM slots, an AGP slot, an AMR riser, 6 PCI slots (!), and no ISA slot.  This board had integrated support for ATA/66, but MSI tells us that the shipping version comes with an external ATA/100 card to plug into a PCI slot, if you so desire (bonus!).  The capacitors left enough room to install the biggest Alpha heatsink we could find.  We also hooked a Golden Orb to it, but didn't dare turn it on, after hearing of the nightmares some have been having with Golden Orbs and Durons... TermalTake has sent us their Socket A version, but until we get a board to test that on, you won't be seeing a full review of it (sorry!).

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