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Socket 7 Board Review July 1998

Chaintech 5AGM2

Baby AT motherboard; VIA Apollo MVP3 chipset; 512 kB L2 cache; 3x ISA, 3x PCI, AGP slot; 3x DIMM; voltages: 3.5V, 3.3V, 3.2V, 2.9V, 2.8V, 2.2V.

The little Chaintech AT motherboard comes with only 3 PCI slots; and only one of them can be used for a full size expansion card. So you cannot use two Voodoo² cards, for example.

Two SIMM sockets would have been nice for all upgraders, at least the board comes with 3 DIMM sockets instead of the common two. The 32 MB Toshiba memory seemed to run fine at 100 MHz, but later hang ups occured. Of course you may use the asynchronous memory mode instead. With the PC-100 memory from Toshiba or LGS the board ran absolutely reliable.

In the system BIOS there's an item to switch between L2 write through or write back mode. Write back is supposed to be faster, but I couldn't measure hardly a difference. There was one difference: All games based on DirectX showed quite a corrupted picture. I could get rid of this by switching back to write through mode, which also has the benefit that the cacheable area covers 128 MB instead of only 64 MB with write back mode.

The retail package I got is very well equipped, there is also an USB/ PS2/IR adapter inside. But there is still one thing I don't understand: Why are motherboards equipped with all necessary cables and adapters (I really like it) whilse the users still have to fiddle around with jumpers?