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Socket 7 Board Review July 1998

FIC VA-503+

Baby-AT board, VIA Apollo MVP3 chipset, 1 MB L2 cache, 3x ISA, 3x PCI, AGP slot, 2x DIMM, 4x SIMM . Voltages: 3.2V to 2.0V

The only motherboard with 2 SIMM banks is the VA-503+ from First International Computer. Due to this it has only 3 instead of the normal 4 PCI slots, but the advantage that you may use 2 or 4 SIMM modules. Memory is a strength of this board: The cacheable area of 256 MB and 1 MB L2 cache make it possible to use almost all applications you may want.

Moreover its performance is excellent: 17,4 fps in Quake II is clearly faster than any other socket 7 of this review, and the Windows performance is also at a top level.

The only thing FIC could allow the next revision is an ATX power connector. The VA-503+ also offers 112 and 124 MHz external clock speeds; I'm working on an article to solve the question if this makes sense and in which kind of memory configuration. At least the board is equipped with 5 ns cache chips, which could make such an overclocking possible. We'll see next month.

FIC obviously was working some time on this product; it's a proof for the Super-7 architecture being matured and ready for challenging the Pentium II.