While the FIC VC15 is our first mainboard review based on the Intel 845 Chipset,
itís not our first board to arrive in the lab. We have a few 845 reviews scheduled
for later this month and January 2002. We already completed our comparisons
between them and as far as touching the layouts, the FIC VC15 in overall,
spots a clean layout design.
The expansion of the VC15 can be considered maximal for an 845 solution. It
features a standard AGP 4X slot, six PCI slots and a CNR slot. Three DDR memory
banks are available for memory expansion; note that only one double-side DIMM
should be used in order to take advantage of the third bank.
FIC opted to take advantage of the implanted ACí97 sound present on the ICH2.
This particular codec is very similar to the Sound-Blaster 16 card and should
satisfy most of the users. However, if you are playing a lot of games and/or
use a multi-channel sound system, you would be better off with a normal high-end
audio card such as the SBLIVE. The implanted audio solution features two internal
audio connectors (CD-in/AUX in) on the PCB. Our board included the ETHERNET
capability featured on the ICH2 as well. This is going to be available as an
option for the VC15 and is situated on the same level where the two USB ports
There are three fan connections on the PCB. Two connections (CPU FAN, SYS FAN)
are linked to the CPU fan, case fan respectively. CHIP FAN can be used either
with the case fan or North Bridge chip fan.
My first objection would go to the placement of the floppy drive connection,
if you have been reading our past mainboard reviews, you already know that we
like all connectors to be in one place in order to avoid having cables lying
around from one end to another. In this case, I would have appreciated to see
the floppy connector placed close to the IDE connectors.
Another common issue we found on the VC15 is the interference between memory
bank 1 and 2 with the video card. This little design flaw has been noticed on
several of todayís motherboards and generally requires you to remove the video
card in order to upgrade the memory.
The board offers a jumper less front side bus adjustment via the award bios;
choices include 100, 102, 105,126, 130, 133, 136, 166 and 200. Unfortunately
no processor voltage regulations are available. The VC15 is a stable 845D solution,
but not quite overclocking friendly.