A Microstar International® (MSI) chipset is a chipset manufactured by the company MSI®. A chipset is a name for a build of chip that powers a certain function in a computer. MSI® manufactures notebook computers and computer parts. Generally, an MSI® chipset is found inside MSI® computers, but many other computer manufacturers use the MSI® chipset in computers sold under non-MSI® brand names. A chipset inside an MSI® brand computer is not necessarily an MSI® chipset, because MSI® uses other chipset brands in their computers as well.
The name "chipset" came to be because chipsets often feature more than one chip used as one unit. Chipsets can be used for a number of things, including motherboards, graphics cards, sound cards, and wireless Internet cards. Typically, a chipset is stamped with some kind of identifying information that denotes the manufacturer and model of the chipset. A motherboard is the main processing chipset on the computer. It houses the main processor chip, the computer processing unit (CPU) and often connects to a heatsink and fan designed to cool the motherboard and processor chip.
For a user, knowing the motherboard chipset in a computer can help her determine compatible hardware and software for the motherboard, including processor compatibility and which motherboard drivers to use for the chipset. A motherboard driver is a software program that configures the computer to use the installed motherboard. The average user will not often need to know the model of a chipset because it is only needed for intermediate and advanced computer repair and upgrading tasks like adding hardware, upgrading system software like the basic input/output system (BIOS) or repairing broken hardware parts.
As the third-ranked motherboard manufacturer in the world, motherboards are the main focus of MSI® chipset business. Companies whose parts are in competition with parts sold by MSI® include Intel®, Advanced Micro Devices® (AMD), and ASUSTeK®. In addition to motherboards, MSI® makes a number of parts, including graphics cards, web servers and personal computers. Popular models of MSI® graphics cards include Cyclone, Twin Frozr, Lightning and Hawk.
MSI® is originally from China but now has subsidiary companies located in almost every continent. Products featuring MSI® chipset assemblies and motherboards can be purchased at a number of online and retail stores. Most of the retail stores that carry MSI® chipset products are in the United States and Canada, and include Fry's Electronics®, OfficeMax®, Staples® and Best Buy®. Customers in other countries customarily purchase MSI® chipset products from the MSI® online store or from a variety of online computer hardware vendors.