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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.14.00]
Manufactured by: Tyan


Quest for the Best

It's pretty widely accepted now that Via's Apollo Pro 133a chipset is a viable replacement for Intel's 440 BX.  With native ATA/66 support, AGP 4x, AGP Fast Writes, a 1/2 AGP divider, 'true' 133 MHz bus support, and various other tweaks, this chipset can fight with the big boys (namely, Intel's newer 820 chipset).  With Rambus prices still *sky high* (up to $1000 or so for a 128 mb chip) the Apollo Pro 133a can even be considered by many to be THE chipset to use with a 133 MHz Coppermine.

Please note that I am not talking about the similar Apollo Pro 133 here.  The Pro 133 came out last year; it did not support 4X AGP, and was hindered by GOD AWFUL RAM bandwidth.  It was a good solid chipset, but with the RAM problem, you saw Quake 3 timedemos that were up to 10 FRAMES lower than those on BX boards.  The 133a is a beauty, though.  The memory problem has been resolved, and with AGP 4x and fast writes, Quake 3 screams.

The thing is; what good is a chipset like this, if it isn't on a GOOD BOARD? Several manufacturers offer a 133a solution, ranging from not-bad to down right awful.  The Quest for the Best 133a board continues...

Until Now...


Here's something that can make or break a good board; features.  Here's a short 'at glance' list:

  • Supports socketed Intel Celeron (PPGA-370) processors, up to 533+ MHz
  • Supports slot 1 Pentium II / III up to 733+ MHz
  • Up to 768MB of memory; 3 DIMMs (3.3V only)
  • PC100/PC133 SDRAM with SPD support
  • 66/100/133 Mhz bus speeds
  • 6 PCI slots, 1 ISA slot1, AGP 4x Slot
  • UltraDMA/66 IDE support
  • Standard ATX form factor (12.0" x 8.3")

What's that you say? Slot 1 AND Socket PPGA? Yup, have a look

Two slots in one! You can only use one at a time, though, and there is a big drawback with the PPGA.  It won't let you overclock your Coppermine chip!!! Here, let me clarify a bit... The PPGA does support Flip Chips, but it reads the FSB speed directly from the chip, and sets the AGP divider accordingly.   Although you can get into the BIOS and set the FSB to 133 MHz, you won't be able to manipulate the AGP divider.  That sucks, but a using a FCPGA-Slot 1 adapter really isn't a problem.  Besides, with an adapter, you will be able to set your voltage higher if needed, and you might even be able to overclock it one step higher! Still though, I would have liked to use the socket, if nothing more than being more 'tidy'.

You'll also notice on the pic that there is a game port/midi adapter (the yellow one, below LPT1).  This will only be on the 1854-a, which aren't available just yet.  The onboard sound won't be a problem anyway, as you will be able to turn it off from the BIOS.

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