MTech dazzled us with the performance they produced with the Mustang, however how well can they compete in Intel's arena with their latest motherboard based on the 430TX Chipset? Let's find out...


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Socket 7
Revision Tested: Revision B
Chipset: i82430TX
Cache: 512KB
Form Factor: AT
BUS Speeds: 50 / 55 / 60 / 66 / 75 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 1.5x / 2.0x / 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x
Voltages Supported: 2.5v / 2.8v / 2.9v / 3.2v / 3.4v / 3.5v
RAM Slots: 4 72pin SIMM Slots (EDO/FPM)
2 168pin DIMM Slots (SDRAM/EDO/FPM)
PCI/ISA Slots: 4 PCI Slots
4 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)
BIOS: AWARD PnP BIOS
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

The MIG-R539 from MTech although it isn't a worthy successor to the MTech Mustang, is great for use with the AMD K6 or Pentium MMX, both of which the board officially supports. As with the Mustang, the R539's layout is superb. All the expansion slots are left unobstructed and the jumpers are all located around the Socket-7, therefore making testing it a breeze. As with all the other MTech boards I've tested, the 539 has an even 4 PCI and 4 ISA slots, in addition to its 2 DIMM slots and 4 SIMM slots. The board has the option of being used in either an AT or ATX style case to satisfy all users out there. The Socket-7 is placed directly in front of any secondary case fans you might have at the front of your case, which is a major plus if you plan on overclocking. The 3 voltage regulator heatsinks are spread apart for mainly two purposes, cooling, and for easy access to jumpers as well as the ability to support at least one full length ISA card. Although there are high concentrations of capacitors around the Socket-7, the installation of my Peltier fan wasn't obstructed by them. When installing a heatsink/fan you should be careful with this board, but unless your hand REALLY slips you'll be fine. I didn't expect the 539 to run that well with the AMD K6, mainly because MTech was never on a list of recommended motherboards for the K6 upon its release. However, the 539 was a perfect match for the AMD K6, running it quite fast. The manual of the R539 is also an excellent addition to the board's overall qualities. It, like the Mustang's manual, contains a quick reference card which displays all the necessary jumper settings for getting yourself up and running. Not like the manual is too big to flip through, its barely 30 pages! Once again, when deciding on a board the manufacturer's history should be an important consideration, and in that category MTech gets the gold. They are truly a great and friendly company and they definitely put the user above all concerns. But what about overclocking...

 

The Bad

Well, there were only two real flaws I could find with this board. First, the 75MHz bus speed was not stable at all, even with my SDRAM!!! I couldn't overclock any of the chips I ran on it. Neither the K6 or Pentium MMX 200 would go up to 225MHz, I tried using the slowest SDRAM timings possible, it just didn't want to work. The second problem I experienced with this board was a very odd one. I mentioned earlier that it worked perfectly with a pair of SDRAM DIMMs...however the SDRAM that it worked with were Megatrends Technologies SDRAM, not the SmarTech SDRAM that MTech both recommended and supplied me with for testing! The Mustang works fine with their recommended SDRAM, but for some reason the 539 just didn't want to boot with SmarTech SDRAM, I'm not sure why, but it just didn't. That sums it up for the downsides to this board, overall it is an excellent creation by MTech.

 


IRQ Usage

The usage of IRQs is a very important factor when choosing and configuring any peripheral, including a motherboard. How the motherboard manages and uses IRQs is very important, and often causes conflicts with other peripherals. The 539 does not skimp in this area, the AWARD PnP BIOS included with the 539 allows the user to enable or disable the usage of IRQ12 for a PS/2 mouse if one is present. Also you can individually set the IRQs for each Legacy ISA card just in case some are present in your system. You have the option of manually setting an IRQ for your Video Card if you desire to do so. The 539 is truly a board for the tweaker, it allows you to configure each and every IRQ usage setting to the max. As with most boards, you can select which IRQ your Serial and Parallel Port(s) use which often comes in handy when you have devices such as modems, printers, and serial mice attached to your system. Immediately after POST, the AWARD PnP BIOS detects and configures all PnP cards including PnP ISA cards. The board definitely does a great job of allow you to allocate IRQs in order prevent possible conflicts with other devices.

 


BIOS Settings

Here are my Recommended BIOS Settings for those of you who have been having problems with the R539 and higher bus speeds. Below are my recommended settings for bus speeds < 66MHz, and 75MHz. If you are using Non-EDO RAM, then use the settings the in the 2nd (Non - EDO) column, if you are using SDRAM/EDO RAM with a 50/60/66MHz bus speed use the 3rd (66MHz Setting) column. If you are using SDRAM/EDO RAM with a 75MHz bus speed use the 4th (75MHz Setting) column. Finally, if you are looking for the safest and most stable setting, use the last column.

MTech MIG-R539 Chipset Features Setup

Item Non - EDO 66MHz Setting 75MHz Setting Safe Setting
Auto Configuration: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
DRAM Leadoff Timing: 11/6/4 10/6/3 10/6/3 10/6/4
DRAM Read Burst (EDO/FP): x333/x444 x222/x333 x222/x333 x333/x444
DRAM Write Burst Timing: x444 x333 x333 x444
Fast EDO Lead Off: Disabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
Refresh RAS# Assertion: 5 Clks 4 Clks 4 Clks 5 Clks
Fast RAS To CAS Delay: 3 2 3 3
Fast MA to RAS# Delay: 2 Clks 2 Clks 2 Clks 2 Clks
SDRAM (CAS Lat/RAS-to-CAS): 3/3 2/2 3/3 3/3
SDRAM Speculative Read: Disabled Enabled Disabled Disabled
System BIOS Cacheable: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
Video BIOS Cacheable: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
Memory Hole at 15M-16M: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
PCI Passive Release: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
PCI Delayed Transaction: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled

 


Recommended SDRAM

This little addition to my review layout was put in here just so you all can have an idea of what brand of SDRAM I recommend and have tested with the board, just to avoid problems in the future if you decide to purchase the board.

Recommended SDRAM: Advanced Megatrends SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 2 x 32MB Advanced Megatrends SDRAM DIMMs

Manufacturer: Advanced Megatrends
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.megacom.com

 


The Test

The MIG-R539 completed all of its un-overclocked results perfectly, however I couldn't complete any overclocked tests. I'll keep on trying and post my findings here....

Test Configuration

Processor(s): AMD K6-PR2/200 ALR & Intel Pentium MMX - 200
BIOS Revision: Std BIOS
RAM: 2 - 32MB Advanced Megatrends SDRAM DIMMs
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC21600H
Video Card: Matrox Millennium (2MB WRAM)
Busmaster EIDE Drivers: Intel v3.01
Video Card Drivers: MGA Millennium 4.03.00.3410
OS: Windows 95 Service Release 2
Notes:  

 

Windows 95 Performance of the MTech MIG-R539

CPU Business Winstone Business Disk Winmark 97 High End Disk Winmark 97 Business Graphics Winmark 97
Intel Pentium MMX 200 51.2 2500 5170 99.3
AMD K6-PR2/200 54.1 2590 5260 99.0

As you can see here, the 539 performs quite well under Windows 95, it doesn't offer the best performance, but it is a fairly fast board. If you are looking for quality in a board as well as in a manufacturer, the 539 is definitely a choice for you.

 


The Final Decision

Well, I reran the tests on the MIG-R539, and unfortunately, came up with the same results. So I can't really recommend this board to anyone, unless you happen to come across one for a really great price (as in either free...or a low two-digit price!).

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