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MSI K8T Master2 FAR notes

drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
edited Feb 2010 in Hardware
Well, since we have our own forum now *gasp!*, I figured I'd post my impressions on my choice of motherboard in my dual 64-bit system.

By and large the K8T Master2 is the cheapest board for dual Socket 940. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of if you're considering purchasing one of these.

1) The cooling situation on this board is downright bizarre. It does not take standard Opteron heatsinks. The board has a motherboard socket hole pattern matching that of the Intel Socket603/604 Xeon and Socket423 Pentium IV. However, at least one processor socket will have a plastic HSRM that accepts Socket478 Pentium IV heatsinks. I say at least one because some people have these on both sockets, though mine only had one on the top CPU socket.

MSI bundles heatsinks with the board, but they are loud unless you use the SmartFan control feature in the BIOS. This feature cuts the voltage to the CPU fans until the CPU temperature rises above a minimum threshold temperature that you set (60 C and up in increments of 10 C) at which point it brings the fans up to full speed. I found these heatsinks to be inadequate for use on two Opteron 248's in my Lian Li PC-7 midtower.

I use a pair of Swiftech MCX478+ heatsinks with a modified retention brackets (the $3 extra ones) coupled to high-output 80mm Panaflo fans. I modified the retention brackets by cutting off the holes that allow mounting on Socket478 systems, leaving only the Socket423/603 holes and allowing me to use 80mm fans. Alternatively you can buy the motherboard retention kit for a MCX603 direct from Swiftech; it bolts onto the MCX478+ without any modification required since the MCX603 and MCX478+ are essentially the same heatsink.

Behind each CPU socket on the back of the board is a massive steel load plate attached to the board with insulating foam. The load plate has threaded inserts that come into the holes surrounding the CPU sockets. The threads used are metric 3mm threads. If the heatsink you're planning to use has English threads on it, you will need to either replace the offending bolts or standoffs with 3mm metric ones or cut 3mm metric threads onto the bolt/standoff. I chose to cut 3mm threads onto my Swiftech standoffs using a thread die you can get at a decent hardware store.

MSI's explanation for the odd hole spacing is so that you can easily watercool it by not having to wait for Opteron and Athlon64 water blocks to become available, but rather use existing Xeon blocks.

2) There is about 2mm of clearance between the AGP Pro slot and the lower CPU heatsink. Don't even think about installing a Zalman heatpipe cooler; it won't fit. The stock MSI cooler for the lower heatsink is offset from the center of the CPU socket to allow extra room for your AGP card at the cost of decent cooling. Depending on the memory heatspreader configuration on your graphics card, you may not have room for an after-market cooler. Mine doesn't have memory heatspreaders, and I live with having only 2mm clearance between my Panaflo and the AGP card. The card hasn't complained yet.

3) Many people have had trouble using Corsair registered ECC DDR400 with their K8T Master2 systems. Their machines exhibit stability problems and occasional pagefaults. I had these problems initially, but they went away when I bumped the DDR voltage up to 2.65V. My machine has successfully complete 7 passes of Memtest86+.

4) Don't use Memtest86 3.0. It cannot properly detect AMD64 CPUs and chipsets. Use Memtest86+ instead.

5) The two IDE connectors, floppy disk connector, and both SATA headers are in the bottom front corner of the board. Make sure cables meant to reach drives in the top of your case are the same length as your case's height. Really.

6) The K8T Master2 does not support dual floppy drives. :(

7) Since this board is a standard ATX board (12"x10") and not an E-ATX board (12"x13"), it will fit in most standard ATX mid-towers and desktops. Just make sure you have adequate ventilation to dissipate two fast, modern processors worth of heat.

8) Due to space limitations and less confusion-related problems with people running a single Opteron or AthlonFX on this board, there are only two banks of RAM (4 slots). They're both controlled by the top CPU, so you there aren't dual memory interfaces on this board. In other words, if the second CPU has to do something in RAM, it has to go through the HyperTransport link to the first CPU and use the first CPU's memory controller for memory access. This isn't any slower than the CPU having to go through the Northbridge for memory access like in a normal 32-bit system so you aren't likely to notice unless you're benching versus someone using a 4-way Opteron system.

All that being said, this is an excellent performer and I'm satisfied with my purchase. It's about half the price of the next board up, and is the only dual processor board that I'm aware of that uses the VIA K8T800 chipset instead of the AMD 8000-series logic. The AGP performance on the K8T800 is supposed to be better, but I haven't really looked into it.

-drasnor :fold:
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Comments

  • ShortyShorty Manchester, UK Icrontian
    edited Feb 2004
    Thanks Dras.. I just noticed you had dual opterons, so was interested in how they were performing :)

    What's the gaming performance like?? Just curiousity?
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited Feb 2004
    Shorty wrote:
    Thanks Dras.. I just noticed you had dual opterons, so was interested in how they were performing :)

    What's the gaming performance like?? Just curiousity?
    Outstanding. I multitask while I game, so I can frag away happily in Counterstrike at maximum detail and 1600x1200 resolution while listening to Winamp and running Outlook and Trillian in the background.

    I'm real unhappy at the moment though because ATI just sent me another lemon All in Wonder 9700 Pro, even after telling me that they would test it this time. The AiW still has the same problem of horizontal light and dark patterns. I've decided that they're testing these cards with DVI displays, and as such don't get to see when the DACs are failing and see the results on an analog display such as mine. I've already ruled out dirty power (installed a phat capacitive filter circuit on the AiW's power dongle), EMI (the GeForce 3 Ti500 doesn't give me this problem), bad monitor (switched monitors), bad cable (switched cables), bad DVI->VGA adapter (switched adapters). That pretty much leaves bad card and bad drivers, neither of which are things I can fix.

    The MSI 1.1 BIOS makes the TV Tuner work (it doesn't in the 1.0 BIOS), but it also makes my machine unstable. So frustrating... MSI tech support is nonexistant no matter what anyone else says: they don't respond to e-mails. They do respond to RMA forms however, but I'm not ready for that yet. The 1.0 BIOS works, just not with the All in Wonder.

    EDIT: I think I may have fixed the instability in the 1.1 BIOS. I purged the PCI IRQ/DMA configuration tables in the BIOS and it seems to have fixed the problem.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • ShortyShorty Manchester, UK Icrontian
    edited Feb 2004
    Useful information :D

    I know it's big money, so I am gonna sit out for a while and watch the price.. and see what AMD come up with next.. but a dual opteron.. so tempting :D
  • NecropolisNecropolis Hawarden, Wales Icrontian
    edited Feb 2004
    Shorty wrote:
    Useful information :D

    I know it's big money, so I am gonna sit out for a while and watch the price.. and see what AMD come up with next.. but a dual opteron.. so tempting :D

    You know you want to :nudge:
  • ShortyShorty Manchester, UK Icrontian
    edited Feb 2004
    You know you want to :nudge:
    Noooo... must resist...

    I just bought two 37gb WD Raptors for £100. Im mad. Im gonna be so poor :bawling:
  • Omega65Omega65 Philadelphia, Pa
    edited Feb 2004
    Shorty wrote:
    Noooo... must resist...

    I just bought two 37gb WD Raptors for £100. Im mad. Im gonna be so poor :bawling:

    Ditto! :D :D
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited Mar 2004
    Another note:
    I experienced profound stuttering with my Audigy 2 Platinum and the 1.1 MSI BIOS. This problem did not occur using the 1.0 MSI BIOS. I fixed the problem by applying the following patches from http://www.georgebreese.com/net/software :
    Patch for Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live! and Audigy-series drivers
    "PCI Latency" patch for VIA chipsets

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited Mar 2004
    patches from seven and a half months ago fixing the 64 bit chipset

    I'm definately waiting.
  • edited Apr 2004
    What about two of these? At 22 db, they'd rock!

    http://www.systemcooling.com/aerocool_ht101-01.html

    Also, I was wondering... Since they use heatpipe technology, and since most computers are now towers, the heatsinks/heatpipes are now sideways... How does this affect the workings of these hsf ?
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited Apr 2004
    I don't think they'd fit, and even if they did, there's no way to mount them without some serious modification. A heatsink for this board can have a maximum footprint of 80mm square, +/- 1mm. They're that close.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited Apr 2004
    ... grmbl... stupid design.
  • Omega65Omega65 Philadelphia, Pa
    edited Apr 2004
    I thought regular (or small) P4 heatsinks fit on the MSI Dual Opteron mobo?

    GamePC MSI K8T Master2 FAR Review

    Mobo pic
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited Apr 2004
    Omega65 wrote:
    I thought regular (or small) P4 heatsinks fit on the MSI Dual Opteron mobo?

    They will, sort of. If you're lucky, your board will come with s423 to s478 HSRM's on both sockets. Mine only had them on the top socket. You can use any P4 heatsink that will mount to a s478 HSRM as long as it doesn't exceed the 80mm square footprint.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited May 2004
    Does this board have any multiplier adjustments ?
    What is max vcore and vdimm?

    Thanks :)
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited May 2004
    Opterons have a fixed multiplier so there aren't any multiplier adjustments and no way that I'm aware of to unlock the multiplier. I wouldn't want to overclock this board, since the HT bus and PCI/AGP buses are coupled (raising HT frequency raises AGP and PCI clocks and disables SATA RAID). If you're going to build an overclocking FX rig, you'll want to consider one with a single CPU socket (s939) and a K8T800 Pro or nForce3 Pro 250 chipset because they have AGP/PCI locks, PCI express, and compatibility with newer AMD 64-bit processors.

    Max Vdimm is 2.65V.
    Vcore is not adjustable AFAIK.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited May 2004
    Thanks for the warnings:)
    Butl I have an FX51 and it's unlocked, and from what I've read at MSI's site this board will run a single Opteron or FX.

    I have an MSI K8T Neo FIS2R for my soc 754 3400+ and allthough it dosnt have much in the way of voltage adjustments it a sweet overclocker. 228 FSB is a very stable and easy mark.

    This board has came way down in price localy, and is very tempting. I would realy like an MSI board for my FX
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited May 2004
    If you already have an FX-51, you'll have to go for a single 940 board then. I'd wait til the nForce3 Pro 250 and K8T800 Pro boards start hitting the streets and see if they make a single s940 board with those chipsets. If not, Tyan has some out and if you really want to you can use this board. Be aware though that you can only use low-profile cooling on the Northbridge since a large heatsink will interfere with the AGP slot.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited May 2004
    Drasnor,

    I emailed you. Basically I am in need of help because I need to buy heatsinks for this board which I purchaed OEM. Is it possible to email or post a pic of the modded heatsink(s) on your board so that I can get a visual. I am very interested in ordering these heatsinks.

    Thanks
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited May 2004
    I'll take some pictures and post tomorrow. I'd do it now, but it's getting late and I'm dead tired from making a 1394 dongle (ever notice how most new cases have their front side 1394 in the form of a pin header while most 1394 cards have external-style connectors on the inside?).

    -drasnor :fold:
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited May 2004
    Check the "Cooling the MSI Master2 FAR" thread for pictures and an explanation on how I did it.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited May 2004
    I read that one already. Thanks much though.
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited May 2004
    It has been updated since you e-mailed me. Check the last page.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • edited May 2004
    Great work Drasnor. I have searched high and low and you are definitely a pioneer concerning this Master2-Far/Heatsink dilemma.

    Thanks very much.
  • scotchfxscotchfx Austin, TX
    edited Aug 2004
    Hey All,

    I'm a noob to this thread but I've been scouting around the web for a solution to a problem I'm having that I think may be DDR related.

    MSI K8T Master2-FAR
    2 x Opteron 248
    2 Gig of Corsair TwinX1024RE-3200LLPT
    2 80GB WD800JB (Raid Striping Array using builtin VIA Raid on mobo)
    1 80GB WD800JB (compressed)
    WinXP SP1 and critical updates

    When I try and compress a large amount of data using either Winzip 8.1 (full installation) or 9.0 (evaluation) I get crc corruption errors when I unzip. I've experienced this trying to back up large outlook archives and other things. I was thinking this might be a DDR issue but I cannot run memtest86 3.0 successfully (just noticed that I need memtest86+ from above post so I need to test this).

    Any other ideas as to what might be causing this?

    Could this be a mobo issue?

    I'm hoping it's just something with WinXP and not a hardware issue - when I get around to reinstalling I guess I'll find out.

    Thanks!
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited Aug 2004
    I had that problem initially too so you're not alone. It went away when I dialed up the RAM voltage in the BIOS to 2.65V. Try doing that and then running the latest version of memtest for a few passes to make sure everything's happy.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • scotchfxscotchfx Austin, TX
    edited Aug 2004
    Thanks so much for the quick response - I will give this a shot

    What are the operating temps of your CPUs? I'm concerned b/c my BIOS has CPU2 running hotter than CPU1 - although it seems like it should be the other way around unless CPU2 is primary for some reason?

    BTW I'm using the heat sinks that came with my k8t master2 - I did use artic silver 5 on the sinks (removed the heat pads from the sinks before I did this) when I installed them, but other than this I am pretty much running a stock system.

    drasnor wrote:
    I had that problem initially too so you're not alone. It went away when I dialed up the RAM voltage in the BIOS to 2.65V. Try doing that and then running the latest version of memtest for a few passes to make sure everything's happy.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • TheBaronTheBaron Austin, TX
    edited Aug 2004
    scotchfx wrote:
    Thanks so much for the quick response - I will give this a shot

    What are the operating temps of your CPUs? I'm concerned b/c my BIOS has CPU2 running hotter than CPU1 - although it seems like it should be the other way around unless CPU2 is primary for some reason?

    BTW I'm using the heat sinks that came with my k8t master2 - I did use artic silver 5 on the sinks (removed the heat pads from the sinks before I did this) when I installed them, but other than this I am pretty much running a stock system.

    i believe cpu2 has a smaller heatsink (slightly) and is also situated in a hotter part of your case (as far as airflow is concerned). look at this thread:
    cooling the master2 far also by drasnor
  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian
    edited Aug 2004
    Sorry for the delay, I just reloaded the OS and hadn't installed Folding@Home yet.

    Load Temps:
    CPU1: 49 C
    CPU2: 48 C
    Chassis: 35 C
    Ambient: 28 C
    (As reported by PC Alert III)
    TheBaron wrote:
    i believe cpu2 has a smaller heatsink (slightly) and is also situated in a hotter part of your case (as far as airflow is concerned).
    If by "slightly" you mean a lot smaller + off-center and if by "in a hotter part of your case" you mean strapped to the back of your GPU then you'd be correct. My temps are fairly equal because they've got the same heatsink and fan on both processors and I have decent airflow.

    On a side note, I flipped the fans on the processor heatsinks over so this is a change from the configuration in the Cooling thread. I figured I'd experiment since other pin grid heatsinks like the Alpha PAL's ship with their fans sucking air out of the heatsink rather than blowing in.

    -drasnor :fold:
  • scotchfxscotchfx Austin, TX
    edited Aug 2004
    Hey All,

    I've upped my DDR voltage to 2.65 and was running memtest86+ but I cannot seem to get past 50% of test 2 w/out having it freeze up.

    I had this same issue with memtest86 v3.1 (I know this is test is not suitable for opterons)...

    any ideas?

    I am going to run my "winzip" test and see if it results in the same crc errors as before, hopefully at least these will be resolved.

    Could there be some issue w/ the mobo (already RMA'd once) that is causing this? Is there any DDR issue that could cause memtest+ to freeze up completely?

    I believe I am using BIOS v1.1 - I need to restart and check - could I need some kind of BIOS update?

    Thanks again for all the help!
  • scotchfxscotchfx Austin, TX
    edited Aug 2004
    addendum - is there any recommended utility one can run to detect mobo problems? I found this site freshdevices.com that seems to offer a suite of test utilities - does anyone have any expereince with these guys?

    Thanks again.. again...
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