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Socket 7 Board Review July 1998


ATX: Asus P5A, AOpen AX59Pro and MSI MS5169

  • My first reason for declaring these two boards the winners of this test is stability. Both boards run as we all expect it: absolutely reliable. The Aopen board has the advantage of offering the asynchronous memory feature of VIA's MVP3 chipset, the MSI has to be equipped with PC100 SDRAM if you want to use 100 MHz bus speed.
  • The AOpen board has two SIMM sockets for all of you who don't want to buy new memory immediately when upgrading the motherboard. MSI features one more ISA slot in return. Both boards allow to chose the fastest settings in the BIOS setup without making you worry about problems, that's freedom.
  • As described in the evaluation, the P5A is now the best ATX socket 7 motherboards for all who want to buy a extremely flexible 100 MHz system. That's why I will be using this board as socket 7 reference for a while as well. With a fast CPU and PC-100 memory the board now shows great performance, but be sure to get the latest BIOS 1003.002 to enable maximum performance.

Baby AT: DFI P5BV3+, FIC VA-503+ and Tyan S1590S

  • As mentioned in the board evaluation, the Tyan board is the plain winner by features. The only spot to criticize is the power management, which cannot be disabled in the BIOS. I'm sure there are more users like me who simply don't want any kind of power management; there's also the problem that many boards are able to enter a sleep mode (via ACPI) but cannot be 'revitalized' again. That's why I cannot recommend ACPI right now. APM has proved to be a stable system and works with all tested motherboards.
  • I expect the DFI motherboard to be available at a very good price, it runs very reliable and fast - my choice for small budgets. Tyan's offer may be more expensive - but you also get much more connectivity options; and although you will have to accept long winded jumper settings, most pretentious users should become content.
  • The FIC board came quite late to the test; luckily it took part in the benchmarks, since the results are very delightful. No problems, excellent performance and 4 SIMM sockets may be a buying argument for many of you. And this board seems to be the overclocker's dream; I am working for an article which will deal with memory and overclocking questions of modern socket 7 systems to give you more information about this topic.

As soon as we will get other motherboards we will add the reviews immediately, so check out this page again.

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