FIC FB11 Motherboard Evaluation

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Test Results

Visual Inspection

The FB11 is a single Socket 370 board, with four SDRAM DIMM slots. The FSB is set in the BIOS, with available settings for 66, 75, 83, 100, 112, 117, 124, 133, 138, 140 and 150MHz. There is a jumper that allows the ‘over voltage’ feature to be enabled, which will bump up the current delivered to the processor, allowing for more stable overclocking.

The expansion slots include 5 PCI, 2 ISA (one shared) and 1 AGP, and the standard PC99 compliant ATX connectors are present (parallel, serial, USB,PS/2 mouse and keyboard). Headers for Wake-on-LAN. IrDA and SB-Link (PCI Audio) connectors are present as well.

The FSB speed is set via jumpers FS1 and FS2, with another jumper (FS0) providing for VIA-Cyrix processor settings. For unlocked processors, the CPU multiplier can be set with DIP switches (SW1-1 thru SW1-4), as with all new FIC motherboards. The CMOS is also cleared via a switch (SW1-5).

FIC also provides their own unique set of features, which they call NOVUS. This includes the ability to install a custom logo (LogoGenie), prevent BIOS updates (BIOS Guardian), load default BIOS settings without entering the CMOS (Easy Key), audible POST error messags (Audio Alert), the ability to reset system defaults if BIOS tweaks have made the system unbootable, such as extreme overclocking (Overclock Partner), and a GUI interface for altering FSB and CPU multipliers through Windows 9x (Clockometer). The utilities that work with these features can be found on the accompanying CD.

Verification

As is the standard methodology for Real World Technologies, the motherboard was put through a series of diagnostics, using professional grade tools. Some of these have been reviewed on this site, the results of which can be seen in the Lab Notes section.

Following are the results of the diagnostics:

  • PHD Plus – 100 Runs, Intermittent errors in DMA tests
  • PHD PCI – 125 Runs, 0 Errors
  • RAM Stress Test – 100 runs, 0 Errors
  • QuickTech Pro 2000 – 8 Hour burnin, 0 Errors

The PHD cards, manufactured by http://www.uxd.com Ultra-X, Inc., are diagnostic cards which are installed into the ISA (PHD Plus) and PCI slots. These cards do circuit level testing to ensure all timings conform to the appropriate specification. If the signal is even a tiny bit late, a failure will be recorded. DMA transfers will fail intermittently on most motherboards for various reasons. This test only applies to ISA cards, and unless the failures are consistent and widespread, they can usually be ignored. However, failures in this area should be a warning that any ISA cards that might be used should be verified as being compatible by the motherboard manufacturer.

RAM Stress test was run with all four DIMM slots filled with 128MB PC133 SDRAM modules. RST is manufactured by Ultra-X also, and is one of the finest software diagnostics for memory on the market. By filling up all four DIMM slots, it can be seen whether there are any loading issues, which the FB11 showed no signs of.

QuickTech Pro (also by Ultra-X) is a standard burn-in utility that sequentially tests CPU, FPU, Memory, Floppy and HDD as well as serial and parallel ports (with external loopback plugs). As can be seen by the results above, the FB11 passed all tests without any problems.

Stability and Reliability Tests

Passmark Burn-In (http://www.passmark.com) is a Windows based burn-in test that runs up to 10 tests as separate, simultaneous processes. These include integer math, floating point math, 2D graphics, 3D graphics, HDD, Floppy, CDROM, Network Card, Printer and memory tests. Cranking up the ‘load’ to 100% on all of these tests can seriously overtax a 500MHz system, causing it to literally come to it’s knees. It is a very good stress test for a system. Running under Windows 2000, I ran this test for 48 hours with no failures or lockups recorded.

I then installed and ran Business/High-End Winstone 99 and Content Creation 2000 tests in Demo mode, with a loop count of 20 on all tests. The test settings were set to stop on any error. These tests completed without any errors whatsoever being recorded. I next installed Windows 98 and ran Winstone 99 Business and Content Creation 2000 were run in demo mode for another 24 hours each, rebooting after each run. Again, there were no failures recorded at all.


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