Transcend AVE3 Socket 370 VIA Apollo Pro 133A

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Transcend's  AVE3 Socket 370 Motherboard
A newcomer makes a splash

By, Marco ?BigWop? Chiappetta
June 7, 2000

  

There are a lot of heavy hitters in the motherboard market right now.  Companies like Asus, Soyo, Tyan and Abit, among others, are always thought of first when it?s upgrade time.  Times change though, and today we?ll take a look at a board from someone relatively new in the motherboard arena, Transcend Information Inc.  The company was founded in 1988 and generally focused on memory modules prior to manufacturing motherboards. 

The Transcend AVE3 is not the first motherboard they have delivered to the market however.  They actually have a full line of both Intel and VIA based solutions available. This is just the first Transcend board we?ve gotten a chance to look at here at HotHardware.  The AVE3 touts the very popular VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset, which we have become familiar with here, so we were rather curious as to how a board from this new player would perform?

Specifications of the Tanscend AVE3
Socket 370 with all the toys

 

Features:

Processors:
Support Intel Celeron PPGA 300A~533MHz (66MHz FSB) 
Support Intel Celeron FC-PGA 533A+ MHz (66MHz FSB)
Support Intel Pentium III FC-PGA 500EB~800+ MHz   (100MHz FSB)
Support Intel Pentium III FC-PGA 600EB~866+ MHz   (133MHz FSB)

Chipset:
VIA Apollo Pro 133A Chipset (694X+ 686A)

System Memory:
3 x 168-pin DIMM
Up to 1.5 GB SDRAM(PC-100/PC-133) or VCM 

Onboard PCI IDE:
2 x Bus master IDE channels support up to 4 x IDE devices
Support PIO mode 3/4, DMA mode 2, and Ultra DMA 33/66

Onboard I/O:
2 x RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible)
1 x Parallel printer port (SPP/EPP/ECP mode)
1 x FDD port (3 mode, 1.2/1.44/2.88MB FDD, LS120 )
1 x IrDA port with optional cable for transceiver 
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port
1 x PS/2 Mouse port
4 x USB ports 
1 x SB-Link header 
1 x Game / MIDI port (15-pin)
1 x Audio Line-out jack
1 x Audio Line-in jack
1 x Audio MIC-in jack

Enhanced ACPI BIOS:
Award BIOS with Green, ACPI, APM, Plug and Play, DMI functions 
Support multiple-boot from E-IDE / SCSI /CD-ROM / FDD / LS120 / ZIP
Boot-up Virus Warning 
PnP BIOS in 2Mbit Flash EEPROM

Audio:
Built-in AC97 CODEC

System Bus: 
66~150MHz(66/100/133 MHz guaranteed) 
FSB adjustable by BIOS

Expansion Slots: 
5 x PCI slots
1 x AGP slot (Supports AGP 2X/4X)
1 x ISA slot
1 x AMR slot

Board Dimensions: 
4 layers, 7.5" x 12" (19cm x 30.5cm)
ATX Form Factor

System Hardware Monitor: 
Voltage/Temperature/Fan monitoring
On board voltage monitors for CPU core, + 3.3V, +/- 5V, +/- 12V, VTT, 5VSB, VRTC
3 x fan status monitors with F/W programmable fan speed
CPU overheat alarm

Other Features:
Suspend to RAM (STR )
Power on by alarm
Modem ring on
Software power off control
Boot-up Virus warning
Wake-on-LAN
Suspend to RAM (STR)
Power failure resume
CPU Core voltage Adjustable up to 10% buffer
PC99 Compliant


Being as this was the first board from Transcend that we have received, I took my usual ritual of ?eyeing? a new product very seriously.  Once I removed the board from it?s packing I looked very closely at every component mounted on the board.  Were the solder connections clean and tight?  Yes?  Were the slot brackets and other plastic connectors mounted properly? Yes?  I really did scrutinize every aspect of the physical quality of this board and can report that the workmanship is excellent.     

Quality workmanship, however, is only half the battle.  Top-notch components aren?t always what they?re cracked up to be if the layout is poor.  I?m happy to report it is evident that a lot of  forethought was put into the layout and design of the AVE3.  All connectors, large capacitors and chips are mounted in excellent locations, something we cannot always say about many boards from the so-called ?big guys?.  The only potential problem I see, is if someone uses an unusually large heatsink / fan combo.  The power capacitors on the lower side of the socket (if looking at the board while mounted in a tower case) are fairly close.  However, I did not have any trouble fitting a Global Win cooler onto the CPU.  If you look at this picture?

You?ll notice that even the connectors for the internal audio cables are located ?between? slots.  Even if you had something plugged into every one of them, none of your PCI slots would be obstructed.

If you take a close look at the picture of the board, we?re sure you?ll also notice the slot configuration and layout.  We?re partial to the rare 6 PCI layout here, but should a board have 5, this is the way to do it.  You?ll notice that the last PCI slot shares it?s case position with the AMR slot and not the ISA slot.  ?Big Deal!? you say.  Well, it is a big deal.  Choosing this configuration allows you to fill every PCI slot, as well the ISA slot without a problem.  ISA modem users or legacy sound card users will not have to sacrifice the use of one of their PCI slots should they choose this board as the basis of a system.

Also, there was one welcome addition to the AVE3 packaged in with the board.  Transcend supplies a connector to utilize the extra 2 USB ports.  Another ?feature? some other companies should take notice of.

There is one minor gripe though.  The Transcend AVE3 only has 2 fan headers on the board.  If you are  someone who hard wires all fans (except the CPU fan) to the power supply in his case, like I do, this isn?t a big deal.  Nonetheless, this is something worth noting. 

 

 Installation, Setup and Overclocking

 

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