Microstar was one of the first motherboard manufacturers to represent the potential of the highly criticized Socket-370 motherboard standard in AnandTech's labs with their BX based MS-6153 board. The board, albeit submitted for evaluation in an engineering sample status, stood strong and plainly put, put to shame the competition to come. Although the popularity of the company isn't as great as Intel, ASUS or AOpen, the leaders of the industry, the quality of their products obviously doesn't suffer. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Microstar's goal is to make it to the top just like every other motherboard manufacturer, however unlike some, Microstar is definitely putting a greater effort into making that dream a reality.
When asked to preview their upcoming Slot-1 motherboard based on the newly announced Intel 810 chipset how could AnandTech refuse to take a look at Microstar's MS-6182? Now that we've placed the MS-6182 on a pedestal, let's see if Microstar can rise to our expectations as AnandTech takes a look at the upcoming MS-612.
New Anand Tech Report Card Rating 82/C+
|On-Board Video||810-DC100 GMCH|
|I/O Controller||801 ICH|
|L2 Cache||N/A (on-chip)|
|Bus Speeds||66 / 68 /
75 / 83 / 95
100 / 103 / 112 / 117 / 124 / 129
133 / 138 / 143 / 148 / 153
|Clock Multipliers||1.5x - 7.5x|
|Voltages Supported||2.0v - 2.3v (0.1v increments)
2.8v - 3.2v (0.1v increments)
|Memory Slots||2 168pin DIMM Slots|
|Expansion Slots||0 AGP Slot
1 AMR Slot
6 PCI Slots (4 Full Length)
0 ISA Slots
|The Slot-1 MS-6182 could easily fool you into thinking it was manufactured as a high-end performance board simply by its layout and expansion slot configuration. You quickly forget that the 6182 is an i810 based motherboard as you stare at the 6 PCI slots, once reserved for high end BX/GX boards, as well as the AMR (Audio Modem Riser) and PTI (PanelLink TV-Out Interface) slots courtesy of the Intel 801AA ICH (I/O Controller Hub). Microstar offers the MS-5964 and the MSI-5966 add-on cards to take advantage of the PanelLink TV-Out Interface port and the on-board modem codec.|
|The MS-6182 makes use of the 810-DC100 GMCH (Graphics and Memory Controller Hub) with a 4MB 100MHz display cache on the board itself. The two 2MB SDRAM chips are manufactured by Goldstar (LGS) and easily make it up to 133MHz, an overclocked setting provided for by the Award BIOS setup part of the board's 802AB FWH (Firmware Hub). The board features no ISA slots, a feature which will become extremely popular with most 810 boards, removing the need for an ISA bridge extension, therefore leaving the left hand of the 6182's PCB essentially unpopulated by anything other than the last 3 PCI slots. Of the 6 PCI slots, 4 of them are capable of accepting any full-length PCI cards, the other two are potentially obstructed by the front panel LED connectors and the on-board PC speaker (the latter may or may not be an obstruction depending on the PCI card).|
As with all 810 boards, the 6182 only features two 168-pin 100MHz SDRAM DIMM slots. The amount of memory rows a motherboard is capable of addressing is defined by the chipset, in this case, the 810 chipset. The 4 rows (two double sided banks) supported by the chipset is reflected by the two DIMM slots on the 6182; the chipset also defines the memory bus frequency to be locked at 100MHz, regardless of the FSB frequency, so the only requirement is that you have PC100 compliant memory, there is no need to seek out the most reliable SDRAM at 133MHz+ since it'll only be running at 100MHz on this board (as well as any 810 board, once again, independently of the FSB speed).
The 6182 is fully PC'99 compliant, easily recognizable by the colored I/O ports towards the back of the motherboard. The positioning of the ATX power supply connector is both out of the way and ideal for cooling as it doesn't obstruct the flow of air to/from the CPU's heatsink while making sure that you don't have to stretch your ATX power cable across the entire board to get to the port. The board is a jumperless board, and features an on-board USB2 connector port for a front panel USB port. The USB2 connector on the board can be disabled by a single jumper, while all other configuration options can be made through the BIOS setup. Probably at the request of Intel, the 6182 performs a B21 state detect that basically instructs the motherboard to only allow FSB settings less than or greater than/equal to 100MHz depending on whether or not you have a 66MHz or a 100MHz FSB CPU respectively. It wouldn't make any sense for Microstar to allow for the number of FSB settings they did with the 6182 and not allow the user to bypass the B21 state detect, so Microstar outfitted the board with a few extra jumper settings that essentially force 66/100MHz FSB detection, as well as a few other speed settings (i.e. 133MHz). The settings available through the BIOS include all of the "ABIT BX6R2" settings, ranging from 66 to 153MHz, as well as a very useful 95MHz FSB setting for those Celeron 300A users that just can't seem to hit 450MHz.
Like the ABIT BX6 Revision 2, the 6182 features a configurable core voltage setup for Pentium II/III and Celeron processors, and also brings a new feature to the table, the ability to configure the voltage of the L2 cache on the processors. The manual voltage selection/configuration (up to 10% increase over the original core voltage) makes the 6182 a definite competitor to ABIT's once exclusive market, it'll be interesting to see what ABIT comes up with next to keep the attention focused on them, if anything. Needless to say, the MS-6182 is overclock ready, and unofficial encouraged, with the voltage tweaks set in place to hopefully improve stability for hard core tweakers.