Founded in 1984, Gainward started out making video cards in Taipei, Taiwan. Since then, they've grown rapidly and have worked with almost every major video chip manufacturer. Not many had heard of Gainward, partially due to their large OEM focus, but many of the generic video cards you find are in fact made by Gainward. Ever seen a CardExpert board? That's Gainward. They also do a lot of OEM manufacturing work for larger, better known video card manufacturers. They won't say who, but rest assured that the list includes some of the largest video card manufacturers around.

Starting in 1998, they decided to apply their expertise in manufacturing to the extremely competitive motherboard business. Coming up with an excellent board on the first try is a difficult task, but everyone has to start somewhere. Going up against the big boys like AOpen, Abit, Asus, Tyan, and Intel is not an easy task. Let's see how they fare with the first board AnandTech has looked at from Gainward, the i440ZX based 6IZB.

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Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Socket-370
Chipset Intel i440ZX
L2 Cache N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor microATX
Bus Speeds

66 / 100

Clock Multipliers 2x - 6x
Voltages Supported Auto Detect
Memory Slots 2 168pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
3 PCI Slots (3 Full Length)
1 ISA Slot (Shared)
BIOS Award 4.51PG

The Good

A look at the 6IZB provides hope for Gainward in this seemingly impossible battle. A 3/1/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) configuration is about the best available for a microATX board. The microATX specifications are followed closely, with the Socket-370 in the right position to provide cooling from the power supply. HDD/FDD and ATX power connectors are placed at the front of the board to prevent cable clutter.

An onboard ESS Solo-1 PCI chipset provides basic sound without taking up a slot. There are only 2 DIMM slots, thanks to the limitations of the i440ZX chipset (for information on how ABIT has gotten around this limitation, read the ABIT ZM6 Review).

Two fan connectors are also available - one by the CPU and one in the back left corner of the board, behind the expansion slots. The second fan connector is in a nearly useless position unfortunately. Nice Foxconn connectors are used throughout except on the CPU socket where a "Beta" (the company's name is Beta) connector is used. The Foxconn's are all solid, as we've come to expect from them, but the Beta connector feels flimsy. The almost standard green heatsink is found atop the i443ZX chip and is mounted with thermal tape. Seven 1500uF capacitors are located the CPU socket with a three more 1000uF caps between the CPU and the DIMM slots. The pins for front panel connections are conveniently placed at the front left of the board in such a way that they will not block any expansion cards from being used.

CPU setup is fairly simple. A DIP switch block adjusts the multiplier according to settings found both in the manual and silk screened on the board. Overclockers will be disappointed to see that only two bus speeds are available, 66 and 100MHz, the ones that are officially supported by the Intel for i440ZX. Fortunately, Gainward has least provided a jumper block for forcing 66 or 100MHz. There is also an auto-detect setting as well. However, most Socket-370 CPU's will not be able to handle a 50% increase in speed caused by overclocking the FSB from 66MHz to 100MHz..

The BIOS also suggests some minimal performance enhancing settings such as a recommendation to select CAS 2 upon boot. Hardware monitoring information is provided in the BIOS as well. The system can be powered on by not only the regular power button, but also a password, hot key, or mouse button.

A CD includes drivers for the on board ESS Solo-1 under Windows 9x and NT 4.0 as well as hardware monitoring software for the onboard Winbond chip. The Winbond monitors system voltage, two fan speeds, and CPU/board temperatures via board mounted thermistors.

The Bad

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