When Intel released the Pentium II processor back in May, motherboard manufacturers quickly began to realize that fitting a 5" Slot on their Pentium II boards would provide some interesting Engineering constraints.  The easiest way to manufacture a successful Pentium II board was soon realized to be by using the ATX form factor, however if this approach to manufacturing a motherboard line is chosen then it prevents a large percent of the market from enjoying the luxuries of a Pentium II system in their current AT cases.  MTech rushed to the needs of the market with their newest Pentium II board based on the newly released LX chipset, and tactfully titled it: the Stallion AT.


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style:

Slot 1

Chipset: i82440LX
Cache: N/A (On Chip)
Form Factor: AT
BUS Speeds: 60 / 66 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 2.0x / 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x / 4.0x / 4.5x / 5.0x
Voltages Supported: 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
RAM Slots: 4 168pin DIMM Slots (EDO/SDRAM)
AGP/PCI/ISA Slots: 1 AGP Slot
3 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

If you decide to buy a Pentium II LX board based on the AT form factor specification you really don't want to sacrifice any expandability features or flexibility simply because you want to use an AT case.  Not only are AT cases easier to find , but they are also cheaper and available in larger sizes than ATX cases.   The Stallion AT features 3 PCI slots, 4 ISA and 1 AGP slot with the AGP slot oddly placed between the last ISA and the first PCI slot.  The Stallion AT also features a roomy 4 DIMM slots making the 512MB cacheable area of the Pentium II easily approachable using 4 - 128MB DIMMs. 
The layout of the Stallion AT is a force to be reckoned with especially since MTech managed to achieve such an excellent design when complying solely to the AT specification.  In order to increase the flexibility of the Stallion AT, MTech opted to include both AT & ATX Power Supply connectors.  As a result of this the Stallion AT's CPU fan connector is out of the reach of Intel's boxed Pentium II's fan power cable.  Luckily MTech included an extension cable with the outstanding bundle the Stallion AT is packaged with to prevent any problems related to this from leaving your computer in a non-working position.  Included with the Stallion AT is the standard set of IDE/FDD cables as well as a PS/2 adapter for PS/2 style keyboards or mice.  MTech bundled the latest revision of Intel's Bus Mastering IDE drivers with the Stallion AT on one disk, and on its partner MTech provided the Windows 95 PCI Bridge patch to complete the package. 
MTech's manual covers just about everything necessary to get the Stallion AT up and running, and although it is still a few steps away from the leaders when it comes to motherboard manuals (ABIT, Chaintech, etc...) it does cover the basics and then some.  The manual provides a quick reference card in addition to the rest of the manual which simplifies some of the initial setup procedure with the Stallion AT.  The M628 (Stallion AT) CPU setup function is controlled by a single set of dip switches that correspond to any of the available CPU clock speed settings.   Unfortunately the M628 is limited to the use of only 2 bus speeds, the 60 and 66MHz frequency.  The stability at all the achievable speeds however is outstanding, this can be attributed to MTech's  intelligent use of 22 mid sized Electrolytic capacitors along side of 40 or so miniature capacitors and one oversized unit.  To enhance this stability MTech designed the motherboard with a setup of 4 switching voltage regulators all covered with large heatsinks capable of dissipating great amounts of heat at any given time. 

Likewise, it is very apparent that MTech intended the Stallion AT to be much more of a motherboard than their previous Pentium II entry, the 440FX based R653.  The M628 is much more stable of a motherboard and performance wise much faster of a motherboard than the R653.

The Stallion's AMI BIOS is highly configurable, giving the user the options and flexibility necessary for this motherboard to be deemed a Tweaker's board.  Unlike MTech's R653, the 628 covers most necessary BIOS memory timing options in the AMI setup, as well as report intelligent mainboard functions such as current CPU Temperature and CPU Fan Rotation speed.  The user also has the option of selecting a CPU Temperature Warning Level to prevent any serious system damage in the event your CPU fan fails. 

The Bad

Don't expect MTech's Stallion AT to be much of an overclocker, the maximum attainable speed using today's Pentium II processors with this motherboard is 300MHz, due to the lack of a 75 or 83.3MHz bus frequency.  Another major problem the Stallion posed during the testing process was the unique manner in which the power supply configuration was setup.  By default the AMI BIOS setup is assigned to enable the ATX power supply option instead of the AT power supply option, while the jumpers on the motherboard are set for an AT power supply instead of an ATX power supply.   Therefore when setting up the Stallion be sure to double check the jumper setting onboard, MTech has informed me that this will be fixed in the next revision of the AMI BIOS to be packaged with the Stallion. 

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