Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/94

ABIT IT5H Revision 2.0

by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 4, 1998 10:52 AM EST


Although the ABIT IT5H Revision 1.5 was supposed to be the last in the line of the IT5H motherboards based on the now discontinued Intel HX Chipset a few problems and voltage regulator troubles demanded a new revision of the motherboard. The final revision of the IT5H, revision 2.0 will be the last ever HX based motherboard made by ABIT and most likely the best HX based motherboard you can get your hands on...that is if you can get your hands on one of the limited quantities of IT5H 2.0s produced. Stability, performance and quality, 3 areas in which ABIT excels as usual, but what makes the IT5H 2.0 different from previous revisions of the board? Let's find out...


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Socket 7
Chipset: i82430HX
Cache: 512KB
Form Factor: AT
BUS Speeds: 50 / 55 / 60 / 66 / 75 / 83 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 1.5x / 2.0x / 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x
Voltages Supported: 2.7 / 2.8 / 2.9 / 3.2 / 3.3 / 3.38 / 3.5
RAM Slots: 4 72pin SIMM Slots (ECC/EDO/FPM)
2 168pin DIMM Slots (ECC/EDO/FPM)
PCI/ISA Slots: 4 PCI Slots
4 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)
BIOS: AWARD PnP BIOS w/ SoftMenu CPU Setup
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

The IT5H 2.0 by ABIT is an excellent way to end the long and prosperous life of Intel's HX chipset, this beauty from ABIT will surely go out with a bang.

The basic layout of the IT5H hasn't changed since the original 1.5 revision, however upon further inspection you quickly notice small but important increases in the overall quality of the motherboard. One of the most criticized flaws of the IT5H 1.5 was the lack of capacitors, a mere 10 mid-sized capacitors were found on the earlier revisions of the motherboard. In order to improve stability ABIT added 7 more capacitors for a total of 17, which are also more spread out on the surface of the motherboard with most located around the Socket-7 IC and the 3 new switching voltage regulators.

Rumors began to emerge about the possible problems when using the ABIT IT5H 1.5 and the AMD K6. Users reported Voltage Regulator "Meltdowns" due to the incredible power consumption of the AMD K6 processor, so ABIT, listening to the market's demands implemented the same 3 voltage regulator design used in ABIT's TX series of motherboards. As a cause of this, along with the increased number of capacitors, the stability and reliability of the IT5H 2.0 is beyond comparison.

The 4 SIMM and 2 DIMM slots found on the IT5H are very easily accessible, in spite of the Full AT form factor of the motherboard. They fully support the use of EDO, FPM and finally ECC DRAM (no SDRAM...courtesy of the HX Chipset). The lack of proper support for ECC DRAM in previous versions of the IT5H was a huge letdown for some users looking for the best stability possible in a system, however revision 2.0 of the IT5H does fully and properly support ECC DRAM. Like revision 1.5 of the IT5H, r2.0 fully supports the 512MB Cacheable Memory area of the Intel HX chipset provided the vendor chooses to use the optional tag-ram to enable this feature.

The written documentation of the IT5H 2.0 is unmatched by any other manufacturer, except for maybe ASUS. The manual of the IT5H is classic of all ABIT manuals, very detailed and very user friendly. It accurately describes the proper way to install, configure, and setup your new motherboard. Like all ABIT manuals it draws attention to key points using legible and noticeable fonts as well as art, something which is much needed in some of the competitor's manuals. Since the IT5H is jumperless, setup and configuration is a breeze. Upon initial bootup the IT5H, like its successor the AX5, detects the processor and voltage correctly and configures them to the lowest possible setting for safety, therefore saving the average user some trouble.

Performance-wise the IT5H is about on par with the Megatrends HX83, its biggest and most feared competitor. However with revision 2.0 of the IT5H boasting increased stability and quality the HX83 finally takes a backseat to the IT5H, giving the IT5H Revision 2.0 the Anand's Hardware Tech Page award for Best Socket-7 Motherboard Based on the Intel HX Chipset. A big congratulations goes out to ABIT's entire engineering team for giving the Intel HX chipset an excellent farewell present.

The Bad

The only problems experienced with the IT5H were courtesy of its Full AT form factor, the extremely large size of the motherboard can make even the most roomy Mid-Tower cases cry for air. I strongly suggest going with a Full Tower Case or at least a large Mid-Tower when using the IT5H. If ABIT only produced an ATX version of the IT5H it would be the perfect HX motherboard, and even though they don't the IT5H comes as close as physically possible to being the best HX motherboard on the planet.

 


BIOS Settings

Here are my Recommended BIOS Settings for those of you who have been having problems with the IT5H and higher bus speeds. Below are my recommended settings for bus speeds < 66MHz, 75MHz, and 83.3MHz. If you are using Non-EDO RAM, then use the settings the in the 2nd (Non - EDO) column, if you are using EDO RAM with a 50/60/66MHz bus speed use the 3rd (66MHz Setting) column. If you are using EDO RAM with a 75/83.3MHz bus speed use the 4th (75/83MHz Setting) column. Finally, if you are looking for the safest and most stable setting, use the last column.

IT5H Revision 2.0 Chipset Features Setup
Item Non - EDO 66MHz Setting 75/83MHz Setting Safe Setting
Auto Configuration: Disabled Disabled Disabled Enabled
DRAM RAS# Precharge Time: 4 3 4 4
DRAM R/W Leadoff Timing: 7/6 6/5 6/5 6/5
Fast RAS# to CAS# Delay: 3 2 2 3
DRAM Read Burst (EDO/FPM): x333/x444 x222/x333 x222/x333 x222/x333
DRAM Write Burst Timing: x333 x222 x222 x222
Turbo Read Leadoff: Disabled Enabled Disabled Disabled
DRAM Speculative Leadoff: Disabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
Turn-Around Insertion: Disabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
ISA Clock: PCICLK/4 PCICLK/4 PCICLK/4 PCICLK/4
System BIOS Cacheable: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
Video BIOS Cacheable: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
8 Bit I/O Recovery Time: 2 2 2 3
16 Bit I/O Recovery Time: 3 3 3 4
Memory Hole At 15M-16M: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
Peer Concurrency: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
Chipset Special Features: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
DRAM ECC/PARITY Select: Parity Parity Parity Parity
Memory Parity/ECC Check: Auto Auto Auto Auto
Single Bit Error Report: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
Chipset NA# Asserted: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
Pipeline Cache Timing: Faster Fastest Fastest Faster
Passive Release: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
Delayed Transaction: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
Extended Cacheability: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled


The Test

In recent times, choosing a motherboard cannot be completely determined by a Winstone score. Now, many boards come within one Winstone point of each other and therefore the need to benchmark boards against each other falls. Therefore you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the benchmarks you see here, but also on the technical features and advantages of this particular board, seeing as that will probably make the greatest difference in your overall experience.

Test Configuration

Processor(s): AMD K6-233 ANR & Intel Pentium MMX - 233 & Cyrix 6x86MX PR2/200
BIOS Revision: 2.0 Std BIOS
RAM: 2 - 32MB Micron 50ns EDO SIMMs
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC21600H
Video Card: Matrox Millennium (2MB WRAM)
Busmaster EIDE Drivers: Intel v3.01
Video Card Drivers: MGA Millennium 4.03.00.3410
OS: Windows 95 Service Release 2
Notes:  

 

CPU Business Winstone Business Graphics Winmark
AMD K6-200 54.0 101
AMD K6-208 56.9 107
AMD K6-225 55.6 106
AMD K6-233 56.9 113
Cyrix 6x86MX-PR2/166 (150/75) 53.9 106
Cyrix 6x86MX-PR2/200 (166/66) 54.8 100
Intel Pentium MMX 200 51.1 100
Intel Pentium MMX 208 53.5 110
Intel Pentium MMX 225 53.4 107
Intel Pentium MMX 233 53.0 110
Intel Pentium MMX 250 56.6 120
Intel Pentium MMX 262.5 55.5 112
Intel Pentium MMX 290.5 58.7 130

Making its way up to 290.5MHz with the Pentium MMX, the ABIT IT5H 2.0 produces some very competitive Business Winstone97 scores, as well as some amazing Business Graphics Winmark scores...amazing for a motherboard that was originally designed before the introduction of Intel's TX chipset.

 


The Final Decision

If you want all the features of the HX chipset (especially the 512MB cacheable memory limit), coupled with the blockbuster performance of the now discontinued chipset, and can manage to get your hands on one of the very few IT5H 2.0's out in the market by all means do so now! When everyone else is playing with their Pentium II systems you can proudly say that you have one of the limited few special edition Revision 2.0 ABIT IT5H motherboards =) Get em while they're hot...

 

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