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IWill WO2-R

Heir To The BX: 18 Pentium III Motherboards Using The 815 Chipset
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IWill has become a big supporter of IDE RAID. Their actual Solano motherboard comes with the ICH2 chip, enabling UltraATA/100 mode. But it seems as if that was still not enough after a look at the board: An ATA/100 IDE RAID controller chip from American Megatrands (known for BIOSes) is also present. All you need is at least two hard drives which can either be stripped in order to improve performance, or you use one as a mirror of the other one. That increases the data safety tremendously, as it's unlikely that two hard drives crash at the same time. Striping two hard drives will double the disk subsystem's bandwidth; three will almost give you triple the transfer speed. Using four drives will finally add only some extra percent. Using a disk drive stripe set is a good decision if you are working with large amounts of data intensively. If you are only using office software or games, you will hardly ever take the disk array to the limit.

IWill does not use an AC97 codec but integrated the PCI sound chip HSP56 from C-Media, which comes with two line-ins and a jumper to disable it. Three fan headers are ready for additional cooling devices. All four IDE connectors (two for the ICH2 UATA/100 controller and two for the RAID chip) are placed side by side. That saves space on the motherboard, but makes it difficult to attach four cables - a little chaos is probable.

IWill offers bus speeds up to 200 MHz. Below this rather high setting you may chose several speeds between 66 and 166 MHz which should be no problem for the board. It will be more difficult to get high quality SDRAM to run 150+ MHz. We tested our 8 different DIMMs at 133 MHz, 7 of them worked fine. With the HSDRAM module the system would not even start up - just as what we saw with most of the other boards. Make sure the lower DIMM locks are closed before installing an AGP card, as the open locks are right in front of the slot.

There are only a few jumpers on the board, since most things can be set up in the BIOS. I personally like jumpers to enable or disable hardware features. That's what IWill did for the IDE RAID controller and the sound chip. The COM2 connector is present on the motherboard; you only need to attach the serial cable that is included in the box. By the way, due to the additional IDE RAID chip, two 80-pin cables are provided.

The manual is even more than comprehensive. 160 pages are quite a lot. Hardware, software, system configuration and setup and the BIOS are described in detail.

Iwill's WO2-R proved to be a great featured motherboard with excellent performance and admirable stability. That's what we want to see!

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