ABIT has come under fire recently for many problems in their newer line of Jumperless motherboards, specifically, their TX motherboards. However, not all of their boards are flawed, the IT5H Revision 1.5 is a great example of the proper use of Jumperless technology. And the benchmarks prove it.


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Socket 7
Chipset: i82430HX
Cache: 512KB
Form Factor: AT
BUS Speeds: 50 / 55 / 60 / 66 / 68 / 75 / 83 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 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 (EDO/FPM)
2 168pin DIMM Slots (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 ABIT IT5H excels in nearly all the possible areas, performance, stability, ease of use, and quality. First, lets discuss the manufacturing qualities of the IT5H. The board has by far, the best layout I've ever seen in an AT form factor board. The fairly large AT board resembles an ATX board in almost every single category except for the obvious differences. Cooling the board is quite easy especially if you have a secondary case fan which places it directly in front of the CPU/Voltage Regulators. All the SIMM Slots are easily accessible and the DIMM slots are not positioned at the end of the board like many others. However, due to the form factor, only one of the ISA slots can be used for a full length card. The board is also quite stable due mainly to the manner in which it was manufactured, not only were the very best components selected but the 2 voltage regulators the board is supplied with all have massive heatsinks which dissipate heat very, VERY effectively. 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, detected the processor and voltage correctly therefore saving the average user some trouble. Revision 1.5 of the IT5H fully supports the 50, 55, 60, 66, 75 and 83.3MHz bus speeds as well as support for 512MB of RAM cacheability due to the additional tag ram and the optional BIOS setting. The IT5H hardly crashed when I was testing it, however it took a backseat to the Megatrends HX83 in terms of stability since it wouldn't boot at 250MHz with either of the CPU's (K6 or P55C). Performance wise, the IT5H is among the best. The IT5H doesn't really fall behind in any category, making it a nearly perfect motherboard. Or is it?

The Bad

Although this board comes as close to perfect as you can get, there are some flaws I just can't overlook. First of all, the Socket-7 is surrounded by large capacitors which is a good thing when considering stability, but a bad thing when you consider that you have to attach a fan to that socket without damaging the capacitors. I had a nice time trying to get my Peltier to slip on easily without bending or breaking the capacitors. Bottom line? Be VERY careful when installing a heatsink/fan on the IT5H, or be prepared to return your board. I originally experienced a keyboard lockup with the IT5H (as I was told I would) however after receiving email from all of you I fixed the problem (Thanks everybody), you simply must increase the 8 Bit and 16 Bit I/O recovery times to 2 and 3 respectively, not a huge drawback. With the HX83 I could get the board to run stable at an 83.3MHz bus speed without having to use the auto-configuration for 60ns EDO DRAM (I could use my own rigorous timings), however the IT5H required me to use more liberal timings for bus speeds higher than 66MHz. Another problem I experienced was that I could not get either chip (the K6 or the P55C) to boot at 250MHz for some reason, I tried everything, it just didn't want to happen. And unlike the AX5, the IT5H Revision 1.5 doesn't support the Turbo Frequency of the 66MHz bus speed which was a bit of a disappointment, although not enough to make me dislike the board. A minor problem I became aware of with the IT5H Revision 1.5, is its lack of proper support for ECC DRAM although it is officially supported by the HX chipset. This problem isn't that major for most users, however it should be fixed in the next revision of the IT5H. Overall, the IT5H is an excellent board with a few minor problems.

 


IRQ Usage

The usage of IRQs is a very important factor when choosing and configuring any peripheral, including a motherboard. How the motherboard manages and uses IRQs is very important, and often causes conflicts with other peripherals. The IT5H does not skimp in this area, the AWARD PnP BIOS included with the IT5H allows the user to enable or disable the usage of IRQ12 for a PS/2 mouse if one is present. Also you can individually set the IRQs for each Legacy ISA card just in case some are present in your system. You have the option of manually setting an IRQ for your Video Card if you desire to do so. The IT5H is truly a board for the tweaker, it allows you to configure each and every IRQ usage setting to the max. As with most boards, you can select which IRQ your Serial and Parallel Port(s) use which often comes in handy when you have devices such as modems, printers, and serial mice attached to your system. Immediately after POST, the AWARD PnP BIOS detects and configures all PnP cards including PnP ISA cards. The board definitely does a great job of allow you to allocate IRQs in order prevent possible conflicts with other devices.

 


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 1.5 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 3 3
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 Disabled 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

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