Since the board is based on VIA's reference design, it features the 686A South Bridge, which helps somewhat to decrease the price of the S2380. The 686A South Bridge essentially cuts costs by integrating the functions of a hardware monitoring controller, a PCI-ISA bridge, and an I/O controller into a single South Bridge. The 686A is also very flexible in that it can be used on virtually all of VIA's chipsets; for example, it can be paired with the 694X North Bridge of the Apollo Pro 133A as well as the 598AT North Bridge of the MVP4. For a motherboard manufacturer such as Tyan that has more than one VIA based motherboard in their product line, the 686A makes a lot of sense. At the same time, we have yet to see a KX133 motherboard ship with the 596B South Bridge, most likely due to the fact that VIA specifically states that the 686A should be used with the 371 North Bridge on the KX133.

The 686A also provides support for a total of 4 USB ports. Unfortunately, Tyan failed to provide an external USB header for the remaining two ports supported by the chip, which can be a problem since the external ports apparently aren't the easiest things to track down.

The biggest area in which the S2380 deviates from the reference KX133 motherboard design is that the board features a total of 6 PCI slots and a single ISA slot with no AMR slot, which for many AnandTech readers is a curse that has been cast on all new motherboards. The fact that there is no AMR slot on the motherboard allows for the presence of that sixth PCI slot that isn't present on the EPoX 7KXA. Just like in their previous 6 PCI slot motherboard designs, the S2380 does not require a PCI-PCI bridge in order to gain support for the sixth slot.

With so many PCI slots, it is always helpful to know what IRQs are shared among what slots on the board itself. The sharing pattern is actually pretty standard for any motherboard outfitted with 6 PCI slots. The AGP slot can actually share an IRQ with either the first or the second PCI slot, if the first PCI slot is occupied and the second isn't, the AGP slot will attempt to share the IRQ of the second PCI slot and visa versa. The 3rd and 6th PCI slots share an IRQ as do the 4th and 5th slots. The 4th and 5th slots also share an IRQ with the onboard USB controller. Since most PCI devices work just fine while sharing an IRQ, this shouldn't cause any trouble.

Although there is no AMR slot, the S2380 does use the Crystal Logic CS4297 CrystalClear SoundFusion AC'97 controller that provides for the on-board sound. Keep in mind that this on-board sound is driven by your CPU and isn't a hardware based solution.

From a layout perspective, the area around the Slot-A interface is much like that on the EPoX 7KXA because both boards are closely based upon VIA's reference design for a standard ATX KX133 motherboard. Tyan outfitted the board with six 2200uF and four 1500uF low ESR capacitors, as well as six more regular 1500uF caps around the Slot-A connector and the four voltage regulator heatsinks being the connector. The low ESR (equivalent series resistance) capacitors are similar to the low ESR caps used by AX6BC Pro Gold and AX6BC Pro Gold II Millennium Edition that supposedly allow for increased stability.

In terms of stability, the board was slightly more stable than the EPoX 7KXA that we reviewed although not by a great degree (the EPoX board crashed once more during the 24 hour stability testing period), but it was still not as stable as the ASUS K7V-RM.

The S2380 does feature a jumper driven CPU configuration, but since the clock multiplier on Athlon CPUs can only be modified through the use of an external overclocking device, there is no real need for any CPU settings if you want basic operation. For overclockers, there are no overclocked FSB settings such as those on the ASUS K7V-RM or the AOpen AK72, although there is the option of a 90MHz FSB setting instead of a 100MHz FSB setting. In spite of the fact that the board doesn't really have any overclocking options (which is usually the case with Tyan boards), the S2380 does allow for the manual adjustment of the processor's core voltage through a set of four jumpers that allow for 1.30v - 2.05v settings in 0.05v increments.

While our sample did not come with any written documentation, we can expect the usual user's manual and support CD to ship with the final revision of the S2380, which should be more than enough for the average AnandTech user.

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