Abstract: A few short months ago came the introduction of VIA's KT133 chipset. Though the chipset itself has remained pretty much constant (aside from a minor Southbridge revision), host motherboards have been going through good deal of change in a relatively short amount of time. Current generation motherboards now include multiplier adjustments, ATA/100 support and more recently, some form of Voice Diagnosis a feature that is catching on rather quickly.|
When we spoke of differences
between the AZ11E and the older AZ11, we weren't kidding. When holding these two
boards side-by-side, an immediate difference in board layout is realized.
On the AZ11, a good portion of the left side of the motherboard was left
blank. With the AZ11E, FIC made a good effort to re-route circuit traces and
there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the previous AZ11 allegedly posed
some rather poor performance numbers along with less than optimal levels of
stability. By optimizing trace routes, FIC can then attempt to increase
stability and give those performance numbers a little boost.
aren't the only difference between the AZ11 and the AZ11E. In the latter, FIC
introduced the one feature which gels most with the enthusiast sect of the
computer community, CPU multiplier adjustments. Absent in the AZ11, it looks as
if FIC is striving hard to attract the overclocking community, something which
we will see in detail later in this review.
of the AZ11E is rather enormous. About 12" wide and 9" deep, it is quite
possible installation problems can occur in smaller ATX cabinets. Considering its
larger size, we were rather disappointed to discover the lack of space around
the CPU socket. This prevents a user from installing an adequately sized
heatsink-fan combo on the CPU.
We tried to install the Thermaltake Chrome Orb
cooler but were unsuccessful. The cause of this being the extremely huge
capacitors present on the AZ11E. In fact, there are a total of four 4700uF, two
3900uF and one 2200uF capacitors around the CPU socket. If this configuration
doesn't contribute to the boards stability, then I don't know what will. A
couple of voltage regulators in the vicinity capped with heatsinks are seated to
ensure a clean signal to the CPU.
Component placement on the AZ11E is
rather clean for the most part. We came across only a couple of hindrances on
layout. The power connector is positioned above the CPU socket which can
restrict air flow in the cabinet to a certain extent. Secondly, placement of
multiplier switches is in a rather awkward place surrounding the floppy drive
header. This why we appreciate the availability of all overclocking
features in the BIOS itself. This way, you at least save the pains of having to
re-open your cabinet and play finger-twister while trying to manipulate those
oh-so-tiny DIP switches. Other than these two issues, we have no complaints
regarding the layout of the AZ11E.
installation was not much of a problem in our large sized cabinet sitting in the
lab. As for smaller sized cases, it would be best to check on an individual
basis. This motherboard is huge so do make sure that you are not going to
be stuck with a cabinet which is unable to house such a board. We were forced to
install a rather generic heatsink on the AZ11E as a Thermaltake Chrome Orb just
didn't have the space to fit. Aside from this, no other problems were
encountered that might interfere with getting the system started