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Socket 7 Board Review July 1998

Chaintech 5RTA2

ALI Aladdin V chipset, 512 kB L2 cache, 2x ISA, 2x PCI, AGP slot, 2x DIMM, ESS 16 bit soundsystem with gameport on board. Voltages: 3.5 to 2.0V and 1.95 to 1.70V.

This micro ATX board seems to be designed for cheap game and multimedia computers. 2 PCI and 2 ISA slots are minimum and a 16 bit sound chip (ESS) has already been integrated, so you won't need another PCI or ISA slot for a that at least. The DIMM sockets are of excellent quality here, the swivels really help to lock the memory into the socket. By the way, the jumper setting descriptions on the board are 'not entirely accurate', so they should be reviewed.

Since there is no BIOS update available on the Chaintech website so far (July 12) I didn't get the chance to see if newer versions would recognize the 0.25 µm Cyrix CPU as 'MII' or improve performance. This early revision lead to complete hang ups if the sound system was recognized by Windows 95 and you wouldn't have installed the drivers instantly.

The only memory that worked properly at 100 MHz bus speed was the PC-100 DIMM. All other memories dropped off at this clock speed. I suppose the price for this little board will be quite interesting; if you take this into account the final board can be carefully recommended except for the new MII CPU so far; I hope that performance will also be better with the final version.