DFI CA64-EC VIA Apollo 133A
Apollo Pro 133A based motherboards have been
selling very well in the past year primarily due to their excellent
performance/price ratio and good feature set. In this review, we will be taking
a look at one such board based upon the said chipset-- but with a
Thanks to the flexibility
of VIA chipset configuration, we are able to have ATA/100 support with the Pro
133A chipset. If you will recall, the Pro 133A chipset was announced with ATA/66
support only. VIA recently introduced their newest Southbridge (VT82C686B) with
ATA-100 support; this was a no cost update to the older VIA VT82C686A (which
supported up to ATA-66).
This new Southbridge paired with the Apollo Pro
133A is VIA's answer to Intel's latest chipset: the i815EP. The i815EP is
essentially an i815E without an integrated accelerator. Both i815EP and 133A
have about the same feature set (133MHz CPU support, AGP 4X, ATA-100 and support
for many USB ports). However, VIA's offering is priced more aggressively and
that's the key feature of the DFI CA64-EC: affordable, strong feature set,
targeted for power users.
CA64-EC sample contained the following material...
||The board itself|
||One ATA-66/100 cable & FDD
||One CD with motherboard drivers, including a
full version of the manual in PDF format and a system monitoring utility
and PC-Cillin 2000 for Windows 95/98/98SE/NT Workstation 4.0 with Service
Pack 4 or later/2000 Professional|
Our test sample was not equipped with a chipset heatsink neither did it
have a printed manual. Not to fret though as the retail product does come along
with both items. We were impressed by the extremely clean board layout
specifically around the CPU socket. Without a doubt, the CA64-EC can handle just
about any size of heatsink out there. There are 3 fan headers for additional
cooling and operation. The presence of the AGP PRO slot allows this board to be
paired with high-end professional AGP PRO graphics accelerators.
AGP PRO is new to you, here is a simple description of it.
AGP PRO is essentially an extension to the existing AGP
socket which permits for a higher amount of electrical power to be transferred
to the accelerator. The AGP PRO slot itself consists of 2 bays (the classic AGP
socket is located between these 2 extra bays): a 20-pin and a 28-pin bay. AGP
PRO accelerators are equipped with a higher number of pins, which are connected
to these bays. Of course the board is still compatible with regular non AGP-PRO
The overall layout of the board is not exactly the best we have
seen up to now. The board's DIMM sockets are just above the AGP PRO socket, so
memory can be un/installed only by removing the AGP video card. In certain
smaller ATX cases, the first front DIMM socket might be rendered unuseable due
to its proximity to the CD-ROM unit. IDE connectors are easy to reach but the
FDD connector might prove to be a bit cumbersome to reach in small ATX cabinets.
Like all DFI boards, the case connectors are bent or rotated by 90 degrees to
allow installation of full sized PCI cards. For the cause of stability, the
board is equipped with 23 x 1000µF, 2 x 470µF capacitors.
The PDF manual
is certainly worth a mention. The documentation goes into depth and provides for
wonderful descriptions of various parts and connectors present on the board.
Most manufacturers include very brief manuals, but DFI is an