You want an AMD K6, and you want one now. You want over 64MB of RAM for Photoshop, but you don't want to be punished for wanting more RAM. You want support for UltraDMA hard drives and SDRAM, but you don't want to sacrifice any other requirements. Intel's solution to this problem? Buy a Pentium II and pop it on a LX board. Now if you happen to have a few thousand laying around that is a great option, however I don't personally consider that a very viable option for most people. In cases like these we tend to look to other companies to answer our prayers, and once again VIA Technologies has come to the rescue. Teaming up with FIC, an ATX version of the successful PA-2007 was created, named the FIC PA-2011. But how well does the 2011 live up to its older brother's reputation? Let's find out...


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Socket 7
Chipset: VIA Apollo VP2 (AMD640)
Cache: 512KB
Form Factor: ATX (w/ both AT & ATX P/S connectors)
BUS Speeds: 50 / 55 / 60 / 66 / 75 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 1.5x / 2.0x / 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x
Voltages Supported: 2.8v / 2.9v / 3.2v / 3.3v / 3.52v
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 / 4 Full Length)
BIOS: AMI BIOS
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

ATX ATX ATX!!!! I can't stress enough the importance of choosing a proper form factor for a motherboard. The PA-2011 starts off where the PA-2007 was weakest, first with the form factor. FIC chose the ATX specification for the PA-2011 rather than the horrid AT design of the PA-2007. Like the PA-2007, the PA-2011 is chocked full of performance and expansion related features. This baby has all the options from SDRAM and Ultra DMA support to a 512MB cacheable memory area and support for Linear Burst Mode which enhances the performance with IBM/Cyrix 6x86 (and 6x86MX) processors. All of this is made possible by VIA's excellent VP2 chipset, which, in my opinion, is really a chipset for the masses. Expansion on the PA-2011 is highly encouraged. Although it doesn't support any of the lower core voltage settings for future processors, the 2011 boasts a wonderful 4 PCI and 4 ISA slots as well as the now standard 2 DIMM and 4 SIMM slots. This allows the user to take full advantage of the VIA VP2 chipset which is absolutely necessary in order for a product of this caliber to be taken seriously. The setup of this board can be a bit tricky since it doesn't use a standard Intel chipset, however FIC's superb manual does come in handy, especially if you are a novice setting up your first system. Like most other FIC boards I have tested, the PA-2011 features the standard AMI BIOS Setup Utility (not WinBIOS!). I still prefer AWARD's setup utility over AMI's however there is no reason to actually despise the PA-2011's configuration options. Once I got Win95 and my test suit installed on the system I had to remove the standard bus mastering controllers from the device manager in order to properly install the VIA Busmastering IDE Drivers upon the first reboot of the system. If you want the features of the PA-2007 in an ATX form factor, I suggest you take a look at the PA-2011. However there are a few things you should know before making any decisions...

The Bad

Performance-wise, the PA-2011 doesn't do the FIC name much justice, I couldn't produce any scores with the PA-2011 that were even comparable to its bigger brother, the PA-2007. The performance of the PA-2011, particularly the video and memory performance is a little faster than the PA-2010+, but no where near that of the PA-2007. Even if this board did support the 83MHz bus speed I doubt I would recommend it over the PA-2007 since it still wouldn't provide performance acceptable in my opinion. The best match for the 2011 is not the K6, but the Cyrix 6x86MX, which produced the best results with the board than any other processor. However I should mention that the 6x86MX is still much better paired with the MTech Mustang.

 


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually set IRQs for each Legacy ISA card

  • Allows user to assign IRQ to VGA card

  • Allows user to reserve IRQ/DMA Channels if necessary

  • Auto-detects PnP Cards after HDD Detection

 


BIOS Settings

Here are my Recommended BIOS Settings for those of you who have been having problems with the PA-2011 and higher bus speeds, I'm not sure why though since it was very stable when I tested it. 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. The next column should be used if you are using the 75MHz bus speed and EDO/SDRAM. Finally, if you are looking for the safest and most stable setting, use the last column. I should add that such features as Linear Burst Mode should be enabled ONLY if your processor supports them (i.e. Cyrix/IBM 6x86/MX) and only if the jumper on the motherboard is set accordingly.

FIC PA-2011 Chipset Features Setup
Item Non - EDO 66MHz Setting 75MHz Setting Safe Setting
USB Function: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
USB Legacy Support: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
Memory Holes: None None None None
Linear Burst Mode: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
CAS Latency: 2CL 2CL 2CL 3CL
ECC Mode: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
Sustained 3T Write: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
DRAM Timing Control: Fast Turbo Turbo Fast
DRAM Pipeline: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
CPU to PCI Write Buffer: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
PCI Dynamic Bursting: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
PCI Burst.: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
Quick Frame Generation: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
PCI Master 1 WS Write: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled
PCI Peer Concurrency: Enabled Enabled Enabled Enabled

 

The Test

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now