Three motherboards arrived in the AnandTech lab shortly after the release of the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset, the Tyan Trinity 400, the AOpen MX64 and the FIC KA-11. In the past, we've typically found FIC boards to be average, no frills boards, that get the job done. The last FIC motherboard to pass through the AnandTech lab was the Slot-A SD-11. Initially, we had quite a bit of trouble with this board, but after a couple of revisions from FIC, it's currently a decent choice for an Athlon motherboard.

The SD-11 was also the first Athlon board with a hybrid AMD/VIA chipset solution by mixing the AMD 751 North Bridge with the VIA 686A Super South Bridge. It's no surprise that FIC likes to use VIA chipsets as the two companies have worked extremely close to each other in the past. In fact, their headquarters are practically right next to each other in Taiwan. When Intel picked a motherboard manufacturer to sue for using VIA chipsets, it was FIC. Thus, it's no surprise that FIC was also one of the first on the market with a VIA Apollo Pro 133A solution.


New Anand Tech Report Card Rating
84/B-

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Slot-1
Chipset VIA Apollo Pro 133A
(VIA 694X / VIA 596B)
L2 Cache N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor ATX
Bus Speeds 66 / 75 / 83
100 / 103 / 112 / 124
133 / 140 / 150
Clock Multipliers 2.0x - 8.0x
Voltages Supported Auto Detect
Memory Slots 4 168-pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots 0 AMR Slots
1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (5 Full Length)
2 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 2 Full Length)
BIOS Award 4.51PG

The Good


Click to enlarge

The first two Apollo Pro 133A boards AnandTech looked at, the Tyan Trinity 400 and the AOpen MX64, both featured very unique configurations - Slot-1 and Socket-370 CPU interfaces in the case of the Trinity 400 and a microATX form factor in the case of the MX64. FIC's KA-11, however, is a much more conventional board with a Slot-1 interface and a regular ATX form factor.

Expansion is covered by a 5/2/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration and 4 DIMM slots for memory. FIC carefully laid out the board to allow full length cards to sit in any of those expansion slots. On the other hand, the DIMM slots are sandwiched right up next to the 694X North Bridge and may prevent the use of some extremely large heatsinks. The VIA 596B Mobile South Bridge handles Ultra ATA 66 duties.

Otherwise, the layout of the FIC KA-11 follows the ATX specification closely with all FDD, HDD, and ATX power connectors are all located at the front of the board, right in front of the DIMM slots. FIC has also implemented an optional 6-pin ATX power connector that offers power supply fan speed monitoring and control for power supplies that offer such capabilities. While this may not seem like the most useful feature, it is unique nonetheless.

Despite being rated to run at 133 MHz, with the option of overclocking it to 150 MHz, the 694X chip was not covered with a heatsink. Fortunately, we did not notice any heat related issues in our evaluation sample. Creative Labs CT5880 sound is optionally integrated on the motherboard and provides a basic PCI audio solution for those that don't need some of the more advanced features available with dedicated PCI sound cards. Of course this is a much better solution than the software based AC97 CODEC's that most boards seem to be using these days.

More Good

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