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But there's more!

Probably the biggest thing missing from this board is on-board sound. This is one of very few boards that isn't equipped with on-board sound. I chose not to slap that on the first page of this review since I knew some of the value-minded people out there will just fly past this revew. I got you to the second page so why not stick around to the end? Actually, there are a lot of very good surprises along the way. But I get ahead of myself.... Back to the on-board sound issue. With those components removed from the board engineers are freed from having to make as many compromises on their PCB layout. This frees the engineers to create a better layout and allows the board to be manufactured with a few less components. Hopefully a small savings is passed onto the buyer.

Let's get back to the layout for a few more seconds.The IDE cable and floppy connections are located on the edge of the board close to the top. This is a big help when mounting this motherboard in a case. The FIC AD11 had its connectors so low on the motherboard that I had to move all my optical drives to the bottom bays in my full tower. That was the first and only time I ever had to do something like that but it certainly is worth mentioning. Also, take notice how the capacitors around the CPU socket are all a good distance from the clip for the heatsink? I think Tyan's engineers have taken notice that many of the new heatsinks are having compatibility problems with motherboards that have their capacitors right next to the socket. Tyan did a very admirable thing and moved them far from the mounting point for the heatsink. Where this falls through is that very large heatsinks still won't clear the one capacitor that is closest to the CPU socket. It was a thoughtful inclusion so long as you keep to some of the more conventional sized heatsinks on the market. Good ideas continue down to the heatsink on the north-bridge. Manufacturers are starting to cut corners in areas like this and it opens the possibility to heat induced stability problems.

Inside the box are included a driver CD and a very nice manual. This is a good time for me to explain a couple of quirks that came up with the KTa. There are no jumpers on the motherboard to pick your FSB or CPU multiplier. The motherboard is supposed to automatically detect your CPU speed and set itself at 200 or 266 FSB. This did not happen though. My 1.2 GHz Athlon was detected as an Athlon 900 (fears of the AK73 returning!) but luckily Tyan has included two jumpers on the board that will allow you to manually set the FSB. This was supposed to be due to the possibility of a pre-production or engineering sample CPU being used. Mine is neither although it was provided by AMD.

The one big issue I ran into with this motherboard was that the on-board temperature safety measures cannot be adjusted. On most motherboards you can select at what temperature you want your CPU alarm to shut down the system. There is no display of what the stock setting is but with a few tries at 1.2 GHz I had to realize that it was probably close to 50 degrees Celsius. That's plenty hot for a CPU but I've seen this Athlon plenty hotter without hiccups. This may be totally normal with the 266 FSB Athlons but I can't be certain. So instead of just setting the jumpers to 266 MHz and having a head to head comparison with the AD11 and its DDR memory I was once again stranded with 900 MHz. But this makes for a very good comparison to the AK73 Pro which is a more natural competitor anyway. I've written to Tyan but as yet have not been given a workaround for the temperature issue. I feel that the built in thermistor under the CPU is reporting temps that are off by more than just a couple of degrees. So the moral of the story is that you had better have a very good heatsink to cool your CPU, or if you are in my situation, a very good heatsink that will clear the capacitors that are closest to the CPU socket.


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