Anytime an entirely new CPU connector appears, the market gets just a little bit more complicated. Which type of processor do you buy and which slot/socket combination do you look toward for future compatibility. New processor packaging is an opportunity for companies like AMD to rethink whether to multiplier lock their processors or to prevent Vcore adjustments. This creates a little bit of FUD factor for those looking for reliable solutions. The early day of adopting a new CPU connector may be a bit premature for many business users as bugs are found and subsequently fixed in these early days in the market place.
Enter AMD’s latest processor connector, Socket A (otherwise known as Socket 462). Meant to house AMD’s new socketed Thunderbird Athlon and Duron, the Socket A CPU connector looks to be the way AMD wants the world to go. The cost of packaging a processor for use in a socket is cheaper than mounting the processor on a card that subsequently plugs into a slot connector. So much for all those previously sold Slot A boards. Slots are being phased out in favor of this new socket configuration. Nowadays it’s just as likely to have to upgrade your motherboard along with your processor so that compatibility is guaranteed.
So here comes FIC again, riding the forefront of this new socket revolution with their newest release the AZ-11. FIC seems to have an excellent relationship with VIA and is once again one of the first mainboard vendors to the market with a solution for these new processors. Much like FIC’s rush to market with the well-respected, Slot A based SD-11, the AZ-11 arrives ahead of much of the competition. Is this new platform ready for prime time or another exercise in waiting for board revisions to fix early infancy problems? I got an opportunity to play with an AZ-11 and a Thunderbird Athlon 900MHz for about a week and this review will overview my impressions.
The test system included the following components:
- FIC AZ-11 Socket A Mainboard (with VIA KT133 chipset)
- AMD Thunderbird Athlon 900MHz (Socket A)
- 2 x 64MB Crucial Technology/Micron PC133 SDRAM (128MB total)
- Gigabyte GA-660 TNT2 AGP video card
- Elsa Erazor X Geoforce AGP video card
- Adaptec AHA-2940 PCI SCSI adapter
- Seventeam – 300W ATX power supply (model: ST-301HR)
- Quantum 10.2GB Fireball LCT UDMA66 IDE hard drive
- ACER 40X IDE CDROM (model: 640A-272)
- Fujuitsu 2513A Magneto Optical drive
- Sony floppy drive (model: MPF920-1)
- Microsoft Windows 98SE
- Microsoft Windows 2000
Software used for evaluation:
- Winstone99 Business Tests 1.3 (Win98, Win2000) – ZDBOp
- Content Creation 2000 (Win98, Win2000) – ZDBOp
- Burn-in Test (Win98, Win2000) – Passmark
- QuickTech Pro 2000 (Self-booting) – Ultra-X
- BCM Diagnostics version 1.02
- 3Dmark2000 – Mad Onion
Firmware used during evaluation:
- AZ-11 default BIOS revision (no updates are available yet).
- VIA 4-in-1 chipset driver version 4.2
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