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Early Athlon Motherboard Review

Features

Talking about the features of the three Athlon-motherboards is a rather quick job. All boards come with three DIMM-sockets, none of the boards requires any jumpers, neither any BIOS-adjustable settings, since the Athlon-processor codes CPU-clock as well as bus clock by itself. The only difference is the FIC SD11's lack of one ISA-slot although it's by far the largest motherboard.

Summary

There's hardly a risk that a lot of you will have any reasons to rush out and get an Athlon-motherboard anytime soon, because it will take a while until Athlon will hit the retail-shelves. It's still impressive to see that all the motherboards in this test scored well and that none of it showed any kind of unpleasant behavior. All boards ran as stable as everybody would expect it, there wasn't even the slightest crash at any time in the testing procedure. Thus I'd like to repeat my kudos to the three courageous motherboard makers for a job well done. I would certainly have a hard time picking one of the three boards, so that I'd recommend the following. The FIC SD11 is lacking one ISA-slot, but if you don't care about it you'll get the easiest to adjust board of those three contestants. The Gigabyte board is just as easy to use, but its eight power supply transistors are not equipped with heat sinks, which could be a problem with fast and thus power hungry Athlon processors. I personally like the MSI 6167 best, but that's only because I'm not afraid of fiddly BIOS-settings. However, I'd recommend that MSI do something about the missing ECC-setting. The MS6167 does also have a slight edge in the graphics benchmarks, which makes it score another point with me.

In closing I'd like to ask all motherboard makers to jump on the Athlon-bandwagon. This processor is not only fast, it's also easy to use and very stable, something I cannot say about my intermittently crashing Pentium III 600 CPUs. The users out there will soon get the message and people will start yelling for Athlon-systems. Intel or not Intel, the industry should get ready for it!