Despite what some may tell you, overclocking and the bus speeds a motherboard supports can't determine a superior motherboard alone. It's the sum of several important parts that make certain motherboards stand out from the pack. We've come up with six important criteria that must be considered when choosing a motherboard: stability, BIOS implementation, features, board layout, price and performance/overclocking implementation.
Introducing the contenders!
For readers who aren't familiar with these two motherboards, we'll provide a quick recap. Last year's Slot A champ, the ASUS K7M, won a devout following amongst its users for its stability and overclocking prowess. While it wasn't the only motherboard to offer multiple bus speeds last year, the K7M combined the best overall package of stability and performance/overclocking implementation.
The ASUS K7M)
MSI offered the 6167 motherboard last year, which was also an extremely solid product. We've used the 6167 as our standard motherboard for Athlon testing since we first received it back in September.
While we loved the stability and performance it offered, we wished it had a few options for overclocking. That coupled with an expensive 6-layer design made MSI go back to the drawing boards for a 6167 successor.
The K7 Pro
At first we were a bit skeptical of MSI's plans to release another motherboard based on AMD's 750 chipset. After all, with the KX133 chipset right around the corner, what's the point of yet another 750 motherboard? Sure, we were told it would be a low-cost solution, but we still thought of the K7 Pro as a low-cost 6167.
In fact, when it arrived we were more concerned with Super Bypass and AGP 2X compatibility than bus speeds. Then we played around with the K7 Pro BIOS and to our surprise found multiple bus speeds to play with!
It was then that we knew MSI's K7 Pro was not your average 750 motherboard; they had just created a product to take on the ASUS K7M!
Editor's Note: It has been brought to our attention that there are two versions of the K7 Pro, one with the 64 clock generator and one with the 110 clock generator. The motherboard featured in this article used the 110 clock generator. Earlier we reported there was an OEM K7 Pro and a retail model, this information is not correct and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
The clock generator is located above the AMD South Bridge to the right of the AGP slot. MSI wanted to clarify that the 64 clock generator is no longer used on any K7 Pro motherboards. If you're considering purchasing a K7 Pro motherboard, physically inspect the clock generator to make sure you're getting the ICS-110 clock generator.
MSI's K7 Pro