18 Eylül 2007 Salı


The DFI AK74-SC is a Socket A motherboard based around the KT133 chipset from VIA, and thus designed to house the latest generation of AMD CPUs: the Athlon "Thunderbird", and the Duron. Both processors use a Socket 462 interface, which is itself quite similar in concept to the Socket 370 interface used by Intel. One thing to note is that the "SC" rendition of the board that we'll be reviewing features an integrated AC"97-compatible sound card, while the "SU" makes use of an ES1373 audio chipset. That said, let's get down to business...

The features
The DFI AK74-SC is expandable via its 5 PCI slots, 1 ISA slot, single AGP port, and an AMR slot. There are also 3 168-pin DIMM sockets available, which can support upto 1.5GB of PC100, PC133, or VCM memory. As you can see, DFI has come to the brilliant realization that supporting at least one ISA slot maintains compatibility with a small ocean of legacy ISA cards. This makes upgrading a little easier, as it means there will be one less ISA card to replace in the new system - presuming you had any to begin with.
Configuration of the AK74-SC is accomplished from within the BIOS. To adjust the operating frequency of the CPU, simply jump to the "Frequency/Voltage Control" menu in the BIOS. In fact, when we did just that, we were surprised to learn that the AK74-SC presented us with the ability to set a frequency ranging from 100MHz-133MHz in 1MHz increments. Of course, there is no option provided for changing the clock multiplier, but such a feature is useless without an "unlocked" processor in any case. Within the "Chipset Features Setup" menu, there also lies an option permitting the memory bus to be set to an independent frequency of 100MHz, or 133MHz.Unfortunately, no option is provided for adjusting the CPU's core voltage.

Technical details
A sizable space has been set aside for the processor, and thus permits the installation of larger heatsinks.The memory slots are located far enough from the AGP slot that there is no risk of the memory retention clips coming in contact with the graphics card.The processor socket is surrounded by 12 1500mfd capacitors. This is, in our opinion, a little weak; 2200mfd capacitors would have been a better option.The CPU retention lever is made of plastic. It is therefore make especially important to make sure that all the CPU pins are inserted properly before clamping it down - carefully - with the lever, in order to avoid to break it.There are 3 fan connectors available, which should be enough for the vast majority of situations.Hardware monitoring is accomplished by VIA's KT133 chipset internal circuitry.This board does not allow for the manual assignment of IRQs.The BIOS lacks any function which would permit users to "undo" recently made changes, by the use of the "Home" or "insert" keys at power-on. This very effectively slows Overclocking tests, as it forces users (such as ourselves) to reset the BIOS via a jumper, and then reset every BIOS settings from scratch.

The DFI AK70

DFI, like many other motherboard manufacturers, has finally decided that it's high time they produced an Athlon board. The AK70, thus, is the first generation of DFI motherboards to support the AMD Athlon microprocessor. Based upon the AMD IronGate 750/756 chipset, the AK70 stands slightly behind the technological times. By that we refer to the current mass adoption of newer, and more versatile chipset like the KX-133 from VIA. What affect will this situation have on the AK70's performance? Well, that's what we're here to determine folks...

The features
The DFI AK70 possess 5 PCI slots, 0 ISA slots, an AGP port, no AMR slot. Finally, there are 3 168-pin DIMM slots that can support upto 768MB of PC100 memory. We would have preferred to see at least 1 ISA slot on this board, but that hasn't proven to be the case...
Configuration of the AK70 is performed within the BIOS, as there are no jumpers on the board that are essential to that task. No option is given for adjusting the operating frequency of the processor.
Unfortunately, it is also impossible to adjust the processor's core voltage with this board.In short, this motherboard is little more or less than an exact copy of the original reference design put forth by AMD. Any one who owns an AK70, thus, will have to install a Goldfinger if they wish to Overclock the processor's frequency, or act on its core voltage.

Chaintech CT-7AJA KT133

Today folks, we'll be testing the Chaintech CT-7AJA, one of the many motherboards that has begun to pile into our labs of late. After picking it out of the pile, we were immediately, and pleasantly surprised by the wealth of functions that Chaintech has integrated into the CT-7AJA, as well as by its general quality. In fact, these many features happen to include an integrated 128-bit S3 Savage4 graphics card, and a CMedia 8738 64-channel sound-card which are both available as options. By supporting the many functions offered by its Via KT133 chipset, the CT-7AJA also manages to make an immediate impression with Overclockers. If all this grabs your attention, then please feel free to follow along, as we put this board through the wringer, and see how it performs...

The features
The CT-7AJA is expandable via its 5 PCI slots, 1 ISA slot, single AGP port, and AMR slot. There are also 3 168-pin DIMM sockets available, which can support upto 768MB of PC100, PC133, or VCM memory. At this point, we can note a few advantages that the CT-7AJA has over other Socket A motherboards on the market. Namely, the CT-7AJA sports both an ISA slot, and an AMR slot. While the latter may tend to collect little more than yawns with most folks, the former still has a wide following, due to the manu legacy ISA cards still floating about.
Configuration of the CT-7AJA is accomplished primarily from within the BIOS, though there are several Dip switches blocks, and jumpers to be found on the board itself. First of all, on the reviewing unit that we've received, there are four Dips switches blocks labeled SW1 to SW4. Of course, we have to note that SW1 through SW3 will be removed from the final production units of the CT-7AJA, according to Chaintech. The block of switches of SW4, however, are here to stay, and can be used to change the processor's clock multiplier. Ultimately, that may not prove very useful though, as AMD recently decided to install an internal multiplier lock inside all of their CPUs. So, unless you would be lucky enough to have an unlocked CPU, the Dips are useless, and can be ignored. From within the BIOS menu labeled "Frequency/Voltage Control", it is possible to set the frequency of the Front Side Bus to a value ranging from 100Mhz to 133Mhz, including: 100Mhz, 102Mhz, 104Mhz, 106Mhz, 107Mhz, 108Mhz,109Mhz,110Mhz, 112Mhz, 114Mhz, 116Mhz, 120Mhz, 124Mhz, 127Mhz, 130Mhz, 133Mhz, 140Mhz, 145Mhz, 150Mhz, 155Mhz, and 160Mhz. Unfortunately, no BIOS option is provided for altering the processor's Vcore voltage.Finally, a function within the "Chipset Features Setup" menu allows users to set the operating frequency of the memory bus to a value 33MHz higher or lower than that of the FSB.

Technical details
The power supply stability is well-assured by the presence of no less than 11, big 2200mfd capacitors - not too shabby at all.A generous amount of space is provided around the processor socket, for the installation of even very large heatsinks, such as the FDP32, and GlobalWin offerings.The memory slots were placed just far enough from the AGP slot that there is no chance of the memory retention bars contacting an installed graphics card.The CPU retention bar is made of plastic. There is also a need to make certain that the CPU is properly placed within its socket, and apply the retention bar with car, so as to avoid damaging anything. A TwinBIOS function is offered as an option, which would allow for greater security against BIOS attacks by such virus as the CIH virus, or from simple data loss."HDD Instant Recovery" is included as a standard feature. This function allows the essential bits of an OS to be saved in a special cache. When needed, the system can then make call to this cache to recover from a system crash, or other mishap.One interesting quality this board has is the BIOS flahing utility that is actually integrated into the BIOS. This will certainly save some time looking for the update program...Finally, it has to be mentioned that the CT-7AJA is equipped with polyfuses that provide added protection against power surges from the USB ports, or keyboard.

Chaintech CT-6VJD VIA Pro266 socket 370

The Chaintech CT-6VJD is the second board we've received for testing that is based on the VIA Pro266 chipset. As a result, the CT-6VJD benefits from the Pro266's main feature: support for DDR-SDRAM. That isn't the only thing that sets this board apart, though. In fact, this is the first motherboard we've ever received that comes not only with the traditional AMR (Audio Modem Riser), or CNR (Communication Network Riser) slot, but also with a slot based on the new ACR (Audio Communication Riser) standard.Let's take a closer look now.

The CT-6VJD, like many boards from Chaintech, is available in two versions. One supports only DDR memory, while the other supports both DDR & PC133 SDRAM. To distinguish between the two, Chaintech has added the suffix /2 to all boards that come with support for conventional memory.Another point of differentiation is that the CT-6VJD comes with an ACR slot, which is meant to take the place of AMR connectors.

Configuration of the Chaintech CT-6VJD is accomplished via a combination of jumpers and BIOS settings. On the board itself, one finds jumpers JP5/JP6, which can be used to force the FSB to operate at a frequency of 66MHz, 100MHz, or 133MHz.Another set of jumpers labeled JP12 can be used to set the CPU's clock multiplier to a value ranging from 3X to 8X.All other adjustments are accessed exclusively from within the BIOS. From within the "Frequency/Voltage Control" menu, for instance, users may:
Set the FSB to operate at between 66Mhz and 170Mhz in steps of 1Mhz.
Set the processor's Vcore voltage to between +0.05vdc and +0.30vdc in steps of 0.05vdc.The rest are accessed from the "Advanced Chipset Features" menu, where users are presented with a series of options in a slightly different fashion than is the norm. Available functions, though, include the ability to adjust memory timing, and adjust the operation of the AGP and/or PCI bus.For example, the "DRAM Clock Drive Control" sub-menu contains the following options:DRAM Clock: Permits the memory bus to be set to operate at the same frequency as the Front Side Bus, a value 33MHz lower than the latter, or simply allow the SPD (Serial Presence Detect) determine the proper frequency automatically.DRAM Timing: Permits the manual selection of memory timings, or else allow the SPD (Serial Presence Detect) determine the proper timings automatically. Manual mode allows users to select a DRAM Cycle Length of 2 or 2.5.Finally, an option is also provided that allows users to set the DRAM Command Rate to a value of either 1 or 2 clock cycles.AGP, and PCI options can also be found within their own sub-menu.

Chaintech CT-6CTA2 i820 mainboard

The Chaintech CT-6CTA2 is a Slot 1 board based on the Intel 820 (Camino) chipset. The CT-6CTA2 also happens to have been designed with DRDRAM( Rambus) memory in mind, though the attraction of that memory standard has dropped substantially - despite its slightly better pricing since a while. A version of this board also offers an integrated RAID 0/1 controller from HighPoint - the HPT368; the very same controller, in fact, as is found on the Iwill VD133 Pro RAID that we reviewed earlier. All that said, though, let's say we get down to the brass tacks, and begin the review.

The features
The CT-6CTA2 is expandable via 5 PCI slots, 1 ISA slot, 1 AGP port, and an AMR slot. As well, there are 2 184-pin RIMM slots that can support upto 1GB of Rambus memory.
As for configuring Chaintech's CT-6CTA2, we find few jumpers to be found on the board itself. There are of course the usual suspects: the CMOS jumper, jumpers for activating/deactivating the keyboard/mouse start-up feature, and jumpers for activating/deactivating the sound-card. There is also pumper JP13, which allows the start-up feature to be applied to the USB, and jumper JP1, which can be set to allow the CPU to determine for itself the optimal FSB setting, or to force it to operate at 133MHz. Many configuration options are found within the BIOS menu labeled "SeePU". These include options for changing the FSB setting, and the clock multiplier. Finally, within the "Chipset Features Setup" BIOS menu, there is an option that allows the user to change the operating frequency of the memory bus.Unfortunately, no option is given for altering the processor's Vcore. According to the manual, available FSB settings include: 100Mhz, 103Mhz, 124Mhz, and 150Mhz, but personally, I wasn't able to obtain anything but a setting of 105Mhz. Of course, that could be the result of a defect in the test board....

Chaintech CT-6AJA4 socket 370 VIA Apollo Pro133A

The Chaintech CT-6AJA4, based on the Via Apollo Pro133A chipset, is a newcomer to the world of Socket 370 motherboards. One noticeable fact about the CT-6AJA4 is its technological resemblance to the Iwill VD133 Pro RAID which we recently reviewed, in that the former offers an optional Highpoint HPT368 RAID controller capable supporting RAID 0, 1, or 0+1. Unfortunately, the version we recieved for testing did not incorporate this feature, and so we can't actually test its performance while using the RAID controler. That said, let's all gather around and take a look at the features we do have before us, and see how the board performs.

The features
The CT-6AJA4 is expandable via its 5 PCI slots, 1 ISA slot, and single AGP port; sorry, no AMR. The CT-6AJA4 also sports 3 168-pin DIMM sockets that can support upto 768MB of PC100, PC133, VCM, or ECC memory. On this point, the CT-6AJA4 has at least one advantage over the VD133 Pro RAID, in that the latter has no ISA slots to speak of.
Configuration of the CT-6AJA4 is performed, nearly in its entirety, within the BIOS, as there are actually few jumpers to be found on the board itself. The only jumpers worth mentioning, in fact, are JP12 & JP13, which can be used to force the Front-Side Bus to operate at 66MHz, 100MHz, or 133MHz. Within the "Frequency/Voltage Control" BIOS menu, though, one finds the controls necessary for tweaking the processor frequency; here, you'll find a list of frequencies ranging from 66MHz to 160MHz. Using a CPU with an FSB of 100MHz and JP12 & JP13 set to 'Auto or 100Mhz', the FSB available range from 100MHz to 133MHz, in steps of 1MHz. With a CPU with an FSB of 133MHz or a 100Mhz FSB CPU and JP12 & JP13 set to '133Mhz', its possible to range from 133MHz to 160MHz, also in 1MHz steps. As you can guess, the CT-6AJA4 offers an incredible range of Overclocking possibilities: 150 in all.Another adjustment, this one found within the "Chipset Features Setup" BIOS menu, also allows for the operating frequency of the memory bus to be set to a value 33MHz higher, or lower than that of the FSB.Finally, back within the "Frequency/Voltage Control" menu, an option exists for adjusting the processor's Vcore voltage by +0.1v, or +0.2v. To be frank, we actually expected a few more choices in this area, especially considering the wide range of FSB frequencies that are given...

The Chaintech CT-6AJA4 also has a few other features that bear mentioning, among them:
Hardware Reset Protect
This function allows the user to disable the Reset button, and thus avoid accidental reboots. Often, systems such as servers are expected to operate 24hrs/day, and an accidental reset can be extremely inconvenient, if not damaging to very important data.

HDD Instant Recovery
This feature ca be activated by the user, in order to store a cache of all of the vital bits of a system's OS. At need, the user can then restore the system after a fatal system crash.

Flash BIOS Protection
This particular feature helps protect the system's BIOS from being accidentally erased, or deliberately harmed by a viral intrusion.

Biostar M7MIA AMD 761

Today, we'll be reviewing the Biostar M7MIA - the first Socket A, AMD 761-based board we've received from the folks at Biostar. Thanks to its shiny new chipset, the M7MIA comes equipped with support with 133MHz FSB Athlon processors, as well as PC1600 and/or PC2100 DDR-SDRAM memory.Let's take a look.
Biostar M7MIA AMD 761 Hardware characteristics

CPU Socket-A AMD Althon and Duron Processor * CPU Speed 500~1.3GHz and up to 1.33GHz-266FSB * 200/266MHz System Bus
Chipset AMD 761 + VIA VT82C686B
Form factor ATX - 30.5cm X 24.4cm
Expansion 5 PCI - 1 ISA - 1 AMR - 1 AGP - 4 USB
Memory 2X 184-pin 1Gb DDR SDRAM PC1600 - PC2100
FSB 100Mhz, 103Mhz, 105Mhz, 110Mhz, 113Mhz, 117Mhz, 133Mhz, 138Mhz, 144Mhz, 150Mhz and 155Mhz
Vcore adj. NA
Vio adj. NA
Audio chipset embeded into the chipset South bridge

Since there seem to be few features to distinguish this board, it stands to reason that there are few jumpers to be found, thus greatly simplifying the configuration process.Only a single jumper - labeled JCKL1 - can be found on the board's surface, and it can be used to set the FSB to either 100MHz or 133MHz.Within the BIOS, user's will find only a single option relating to the processor, which will allow them to set the FSB frequency as indicated in the table above. As you can guess, the M7MIA is really designed with Overclocking in mind, even though it's AMD 761 chipset does supply it with a good deal of under-the-hood power. The BIOS can however be rolled-back to the last batch of valid settings by pressing "CTRL + Insert" at start-up.
Index: Chose...IntroductionTechnical detailsAdditionnal featuresSpecificationsBenchmarksConclusions