No one expected FIC to make a killer Socket-7 motherboard, but they did, no one expected FIC to put the VIA VP2 chipset to good use, and they did, however no one expected FIC to enter the Socket-7 arena with a knockout motherboard based on the Intel TX Chipset...what did FIC do? Let's find out...


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Socket 7
Chipset: i82430TX
Cache: 512KB
Form Factor: AT
BUS Speeds: 50 / 55 / 60 / 66 / 68 / 75 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 1.5x / 2.0x / 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x
Voltages Supported: 2.8v / 2.9v / 3.2v / 3.3v / 3.52v
RAM Slots: 4 72pin SIMM Slots (EDO/FPM)
2 168pin DIMM Slots (SDRAM/EDO/FPM)
PCI/ISA Slots: 4 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)
BIOS: AMI BIOS
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

Like most other FIC motherboards, the PT-2007 comes very close to being the best possible Socket-7 motherboard ever made, however it lacks one major function you won't even see in the upcoming PA-2012 (VP3 + AGP), support for the 83.3MHz bus speed. For those of you wondering what the 75MHz bus speed setting is, take a look at the following chart:

75MHz Bus Speed
CLK1

1-2

CLK2

2-3

CLK3

1-2

FIC seems to have embraced the AT standard back in their 486 days and have never let go since, it is for that reason that the PT-2007, like its buff brother the PA-2007, is based on the AT form factor. Now that may be upsetting for some ATX advocates, however the design and layout of the PT-2007 doesn't suffer too much because of the outdated standard. FIC managed to fit in 3 ISA as well as 4 PCI slots on the PT-2007 while leaving room for the necessary 2 DIMM and 4 SIMM slots. The triple voltage regulators of the PT-2007 are rather reminiscent of the wonderful ABIT AX5 design, and the PT-2007's stability accents this observation. At all speeds, using all bus speeds, using any combination of SDRAM I threw at it, the PT-2007 was solid as a rock, it never crashed and flexed its TX muscle the entire time.

The manual of the PT-2007 is much better than previous FIC Boards, such as the PA-2007 and PA-2010+. The new 1st Mainboard Series User Manuals feature more detailed diagrams as well as in-depth information about the different jumper settings that correspond to each individual processor. Ever wonder what the physical differences between a Pentium Classic and a Pentium MMX are? How about those between an AMD K5 and an AMD K6? A Cyrix 6x86 and a 6x86MX? Check out the PT-2007 manual, the diagrams and photographs clearly explain all of this to avoid any confusion by the user. If the PT-2007 is your first motherboard then you can be sure that you will have an easy time setting it up if you follow the manual properly.

Most boards sacrifice speed for stability or vise versa, that has been the case with previous FIC motherboards as well, for example the FIC PA-2010+. It is a rock solid motherboard, however it is the worst performer ever to appear on Anand's Hardware Tech Page. The PT-2007 achieves a medium between the two extremes therefore FIC produced a board that is both extremely fast and competitive (see the Socket-7 Motherboard Comparison). At all speeds with all processors I threw at it, the PT-2007 performed well above average if it didn't score in the top 3 places out of all the motherboards I have tested so far.

The Bad

You can most likely already predict the two downsides to this board. So here they are:

  • No 83MHz bus speed support

  • AT form factor, no option of an ATX form factor

Not a bad ratio of pros to cons, the amount and size of capacitors on the PT-2007 isn't a con since FIC decided to use a few large high quality capacitors on the PT-2007 which definitely paid off in its excellent stability and reliability.

 


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually set IRQs for each Legacy ISA card

  • Allows user to reserve IRQ/DMA Channels if necessary

  • Auto-detects PnP Cards after HDD Detection

 


BIOS Settings

Here are my Recommended BIOS Settings for those of you who have been having problems with the PT-2007 and higher bus speeds, I'm not sure why though since it was very stable when I tested it. Below are my recommended settings for bus speeds < 66MHz, and 75MHz. If you are using Non-EDO RAM, then use the settings the in the 2nd (Non - EDO) column, if you are using SDRAM/EDO RAM with a 50/60/66MHz bus speed use the 3rd (66MHz Setting) column. The next column should be used if you are using the 75MHz bus speed and EDO/SDRAM. Finally, if you are looking for the safest and most stable setting, use the last column. There are more Chipset Features Setup options than those I have listed here, but they pertain to HDD settings as well as Serial/Parallel Ports and have nothing to do with memory timings so I left them out intentionally.

 


Recommended SDRAM

This little addition to my review layout was put in here just so you all can have an idea of what brand of SDRAM I recommend and have tested with the board, just to avoid problems in the future if you decide to purchase the board.

Recommended SDRAM: Advanced Megatrends SDRAM; Corsair SDRAM; SmarTech SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 2 x 32MB Advanced Megatrends SDRAM DIMMs; 2 x 32MB SmarTech SDRAM DIMMs; 2 x 32MB Corsair SDRAM DIMMs

Manufacturer: Advanced Megatrends
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.megacom.com

Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.nf-ny.com

 


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
RAM: 2 - 32MB Advanced Megatrends, Corsair, SmarTech SDRAM DIMMs
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC21600H
Video Card: Matrox Millennium (2MB WRAM)
Busmaster EIDE Drivers: Intel 3.01
Video Card Drivers: MGA Millennium 4.03.00.3410
OS: Windows 95 Service Release 2
System Cooling: 1" Heatsink/Fan Combo
2 Case Fans
Generic OEM Mid Tower Case

 

Windows 95 Performance of the FIC PT-2007

CPU Business Winstone 97
AMD K6-200 53.7
AMD K6-225 57.5
AMD K6-233 56.0
Cyrix 6x86MX-PR2/166 (150/75) 55.5
Cyrix 6x86MX-PR2/200 (166/66) 56.9
Intel Pentium MMX - 200 51.3
Intel Pentium MMX - 225 55.0
Intel Pentium MMX - 233 53.4
Intel Pentium MMX - 262.5 57.0

Now these are some nice scores, the PT-2007 smokes the competition when it comes down to raw performance and power. And at the heart of all this? Not a VIA chipset, but the Intel TX chipset put to good use for once!

 


The Final Decision

Nothing really sets the PT-2007 apart from the competition, its spectacular performance does play a role however there are many better options on the market today. It is worth your consideration, and if you see one for a good price pick it up, otherwise keep on looking for that perfect motherboard.

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