The VIA133A boards will remain good performance chip-sets for at least
another few months. The i815 will generaly end up being the best choice these
days for its superior performance, but as for its price, the VIA133A remains
the most affordable 133MHz solution today.
I must say that I was not very thrilled with any of these four boards. Each
had some issues, not that its not normal, but I would have prefered to see
a real winner featuring good design, good overclocking, acceptable expansion
and performance. None of these boards ended up having these four features.
The Tyan board was one of my favorites because of its maximal PCI expansion
and superior memory bandwidth. But because of the overclocking issues, It
will not be the board to buy for most people. At 100MHz the Trinity 400 performed
very stable and its results werenít bad at all. If you are looking for a good
VIA FC-PGA board and not planning to overclock your processor, then this board
will be your best bet of the four participating boards.
The Azza board was a great competitor. Unfortunantly as I already stated a
few times, its four PCI expansion will limit this board mostly for the OEM
market. Its benchmarks were acceptable in most cases. I don't consider its
Sandra 2000 CPU results as horrific. That specific benchmark was where the
694TX suffered most. If you look at the chart, you will also notice that Azzaís
i815 solution also received some of the weakest Sandra 2000 CPU numbers. My
guess would be that it is Azza's PCB design. Some architectural improvements
could have been done wonders in order to boost performance. I would not have
a problem recommending the 694TX as we did not experience any stability issues
and it is benchmark results were average. In order to give deeper interest,
Azza will have to release the memory BIOS fix and expand its PCI slots.
The BoardRunner board ended being another acceptable performer. Its benchmark
results were in most cases acceptable and superior to the Azza 694X and Tyanís
Trinity 400. No stability issues were noticed at 133MHz. The board managed
to perform quite well too. My first recommendation to Boardrunner would be
on improving its design. The FDD port should have been placed around the two
IDE ports and the ATX power connector would have been better if placed in
the top of the PCB, preferably around the IDE connectors also. Another recommendation
worth mentioning is removing one of the two ISA slots and replacing it with
a PCI slot. The board could have been a more attractive product if it featured
the maximum expansion of six-pci slots. I do not see a point these days on
implanting two ISA slots, I am sure that most will agree.
The Transcend TS-AVE3 was an interesting board. Unfortunantly it did not end
up being the board we would have expected it to be. It got one of the slowest
benchmark results at 100MHz, but in many cases its performance was still acceptable.
Some architectural improvements could have been done in order to sell reasonable
amounts of these boards. I was also quite disapointed about the BIOS error.
I could not select anything higher than 112MHz bus, and my second requested
sample had the exact same problem. I'll be talking to transcend about this
issue and I will gladly submit these two boards back to Transcend in order
to get a functional unit.
If you didnít have much choice, and had to choose a board of this round up
article my first bet would have been the Tyan mainboard for itís superior
memory bandwidth and maximum expansion. Unfortunantly as stated earlier, this
board is not quite the overclocking fan. This will have to automaticaly limit
this unit to users who don't plan to overclock their processor. If it were
my personal choice between the reviewed boards , I would go for the BoardRunner
board as a second choice. It showed us some reasonable benchmark numbers and
great overclocking stability which most will appreciate.