FIC amazed me with their VIA chipset based PA-2007 Socket-7 motherboard, but the question of how well FIC could make an Intel based motherboard quickly came up...and the results are definitely NOT disappointing!


Motherboard Specifications

Socket Style: Slot - 1
Chipset: i82440FX (NATOMA)
Cache: N/A (On Chip)
Form Factor: ATX (w/ AT and ATX power Connectors)
BUS Speeds: 60 / 66 MHz
Clock Multipliers: 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x / 4.0x / 4.5x / 5.0x / 5.5x
Voltages Supported: 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
RAM Slots: 6 72pin SIMM Slots (EDO/FPM)
PCI/ISA Slots: 5 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
BIOS: AMI BIOS
PCI EIDE Controller: Super I/O
2 EIDE Channels
1 FDD Channel
2 Serial /1 EPP

 


The Good

These days, the good ole 440FX (Natoma) chipset is on its way out the door to make room for the buff LX chipset solution by Intel, however motherboards are constantly being manufactured with this decent chipset. From what I've seen of the preliminary benchmarks of the LX boards, they don't provide that great of a performance advantage over classic FX based motherboards. So why would someone shell out a hundred or two more for an average performing board when there is a perfect low-cost solution right around the corner? If you absolutely must have a Pentium II, don't go out and try to buy the latest and the greatest out there, since chances are your next upgrade will be in a few months. A board you should consider? The FIC KN-6010. I didn't realize FIC manufactured any Pentium II boards until I visited their website so I thought that you might be interested in my opinions of it, so lets get to the board shall we?

The first thing you notice about the KN-6010 are the switching voltage regulators you see on the motherboard which immediately explain the stability of the board. The Pentium II clocked at 300MHz produces 38 Watts of heat...and that amount of heat calls for the voltage current being supplied to the processor to be consistent, meaning switching voltage regulators are must haves. Another thing you quickly notice about the KN-6010 are the 6 black SIMM slots which date back to FIC's early 486 days (if I remember correctly). With a motherboard that can cache up to 512MB of RAM, having ample SIMM slots is a true necessity, the KN-6010, like most other Pentium II boards boasts expandability as one of its main strongpoints. The 5 PCI slots and small footprint of the 6010 make it reminiscent of the ASUS KN97-X and Megatrends FX66, and the stability of the motherboard is also comparable to those two. All the jumpers and connectors on the 6010 are easily accessible and when considering cooling the 6010 is very well laid out (except for the placement of the Slot-1 which is closer to the HDD cage). Although the 6010 does have an AT power connector on it in addition to the ATX one, I wouldn't recommend going with an AT case unless it is EXTREMELY well ventilated. Overall the 6010 isn't a bad board, and is worth your consideration if you must have a Pentium II =)

The Bad

Performance-wise, the 6010 is pretty much average for a Pentium II board, however there aren't that many out there that really stand out among others. The lack of a 75 or 83MHz bus speed setting can be quite disappointing for Pentium II - 233 owners not willing to make the jump to 300MHz quite yet and are looking for an in-between setting. Its a shame, since I'm sure the 6010 would've been even better with those two settings. Finally, the AMI BIOS included with the KN-6010 (not AMI WinBIOS just plain old AMI BIOS) isn't the world's most appeasing configuration utility. Although it does cover most of the basics and a few advanced settings I personally am much more comfortable with AMI's WinBIOS or AWARD's BIOS setup utilities. If you really would like me to post my recommended BIOS settings I will, however for now I see no real reason to do so.

 


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually assign IRQs to PCI/Legacy ISA devices

  • Autodetects PnP Peripherals after POST

 


The Test

In recent times, choosing a motherboard cannot be completely determined by a Winstone score. Now, many boards come within one Winstone point of each other and therefore the need to benchmark boards against each other falls. Therefore you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the benchmarks you see here, but also on the technical features and advantages of this particular board, seeing as that will probably make the greatest difference in your overall experience.

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Intel Pentium II - 266 (512K)
RAM: 2 - 32MB Micron 50ns EDO SIMMs
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
Cooling Configuration: Enlight 7230 Mid Tower ATX Case
2 Secondary Case Fans
OEM Pentium II Heatsink

Windows 95 Performance of the KN-6010

CPU Business Winstone 97
Intel Pentium II - 233 58.0

Intel Pentium II - 266

61.2

Intel Pentium II - 300

64.3

Video Performance of the KN-6010

CPU Business Graphics Winmark 97
Intel Pentium II - 233 127

Intel Pentium II - 266

131

Intel Pentium II - 300

138


The Final Decision

The KN-6010 is a better than average Pentium II board, for a better than average system, it is decently priced and you definitely get the most bang for your buck out of this one. It is worth your consideration, at least until FIC can dazzle us with a LX based motherboard or possible a Pentium II board not based on an Intel chipset...

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