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21 Slot-1 Motherboards using VIA Chipsets

Chaintech 6ATA4

Board Revision: 1.03

BIOS Version: February 25, 2000

Chaintech ships its latest VIA chipset motherboard with the latest North Bridge (694X) and the better equipped South Bridge (686A). Five PCI, AGP 4x and one ISA slot should be enough for most purposes. The AMR slot is present as well, but shared with the ISA slot, which means that you can either use an ISA expansion card or the AMR slot. Not bad, since you don't just "waste" a slot by having the AMR. Three DIMM sockets are standard today, and the remaining features are common as well: Two serial, one parallel port, UltraDMA/66, temp and voltage monitoring, Wake On LAN/Modem/Timer, ECC support and on board AC97 sound. You've certainly noticed the free space in the upper left corner. Here's the position for an optional Creative sound chip. DIMM and PCI power LEDs are to indicate their status.

The connector panel's description is adequate, but could still be better. Like Gigabyte or AOpen, Chaintech provides a so-called Twin BIOS: After a failed BIOS update you will be able to boot the system after setting a jumper. There are only two functions which would require jumpers. First enabling the option to change the processor's core voltage. The second jumper set is responsible for the FSB selection, which can also be done in the BIOS together with the multiplier setup (Chaintech calls this SeePU).

Friends of external multimedia hardware will be delighted about the four USB ports. As usual, the first two ports are located in between the other external connectors, but you will require a USB riser to enable the two other ports. Chaintech did not include this cable into the package, so you will have to start hunting for it. Why hunting? It's been my experience that it's usually not that easy to get such a cable, since the connector pins can be differing from one company to another. The corresponding pins have been placed between two PCI slots - not really smart, but the majority of all users probably won't use this option anyway. You will have to close the DIMM locks to install an AGP card. Besides that, there is nothing else, which would prevent using large expansion cards.

Chaintech did install the CPU guidance parts, so you only have to press in the two plastic locks. Their manual contains a detailed feature description, sufficient installation instructions, some surprising neutral overclocking information and a detailed BIOS guide. Overclockers: The FSB can be chosen MHz by MHz.

To summarize, this board comes with lots of nice features, making it very interesting. I think it's important to say that I only got a SYSmark result under Windows NT in the third attempt. After the first crash, I reduced timings and disabled some features, but the blue screen came again. The achieved performance fulfils the expectations of a 694X motherboard, and apart from those two crashes this board has left quite a good impression. Nevertheless there could be some weakness regarding Windows NT.