Review of Socket 7 PCI Motherboards

Some Results

Intel's 430TX chipset could have controlled the market, but Intel decided to stunt it for emphasizing the performance and push up the sales of Pentium II CPUs. The Socket 7 market is all but dead though. VIA successfully topped the 430HX's performance with the Apollo VP2 (or AMD-640) and is going to attack Intel's AGP advantage with the Apollo VP3 chipset. Please take a look at benchmark results from the final revision of the FIC PA-2012 Rev. 1.2 .

It's no secret: The Apollo VP2 chipset (also AMD-640) is at the moment the fastest for Windows NT, particularly with 1 MB L2 Cache. Important as well: Don't forget the VIA Busmaster IDE drivers, they push up your performance again. As often, the overall performance depends highly on fine tuning by the manufacturer. A good 430HX and EDO memory can be as fast as an average 430TX board with SDRAM. Once again, the field is too close together to justifiably talking about slow or fast. The performance differences between two boards are usually under 5%, that's why I would buy a motherboard first by its features (external clock, expandability, stability) and second by its performance. Product cycles are too fast to spend a lot of money on one single component, but this is why everybody should make his own decisions.

Always on the top and the best allrounder at all clock speeds is ABit's AB-TX5 (430TX), also very stable and comfortable to configure by ABit's CPU Soft Menu. If a Cyrix/IBM CPU is your choice, take a closer look at the two boards with Apollo VP2 chipset and 1 MB Cache. Taking advantage of the linear burst mode, the FIC PA-2007 and the Shuttle HOT-603 are the fastest boards for those CPUs. The fastest board for the Pentium MMX is currently the Asus TX97-XE. It's a pity that the 75 and 83 MHz modes don't run reliably. It's more difficult making your mind up in case you want to use a AMD K6 CPU . Very fast boards are the FIC PA-2007 or the AOpen AX5T, but others are pretty close. To determine your favorite motherboard, please refer to the benchmark charts and the technical informations of each board.

Testing Environment

Of course the motherboards were tested under the same conditions:

CPUs: Intel Pentium MMX 233 MHz (66 x 3.5), AMD K6 at 233 MHz (66 x 3.5) and if possible at 250 MHz (83 x 3) as well as Cyrix/IBM 6x86MX PR233 (187 MHz, 75 x 2.5).

Memory: If supported 64 MB SDRAM (2x 32 MB Toshiba 10ns or Samsung 12ns), else 64 MB EDO DRAM (2x 32 MB TI, 60ns)

Harddisk: Quantum Fireball ST 3.2 EIDE (if supported using Ultra-DMA/2 interface, else DMA/2)

VGA: Matrox MGA Millennium 4 MB, 1024x768 High Color

OS: MS Windows 95 OSR 2.1 (USB supplement), MS Windows NT 4.0 Server (+ Service Pack 3)