S2495 - Up Close and Personal
Under the Hood
better than opening up a motherboard box and seeing all the
extras that come along bundled with it. However, the
Tyan S2495 didn't pack much inside the box beside the
motherboard itself. Just the basics are there and even
that is lacking a bit. The board ships with one ATA
133 ribbon cable and one floppy drive ribbon cable.
There is also a back I/O panel cover that ships with the
board. Like I said the basics. There are also a
couple of driver disks and a manual. Although the
manual lacks some depth, it is very straight forward and
Since the board
does offer support for six USB 2.0 ports, it would've been
nice to see Tyan throw in an additional two USB 2.0 jacks on
a rear slot plate, to take advantage of the two USB
pin-headers on the board. The bright side to this is
that a lot of cases in today's market, ship with at least
two USB 2.0 jacks. So, if you want to take advantage
of all six USB 2.0 ports on this board, then you'd better
have a case that sports two USB 2.0 jacks.
Unfortunately, there is no IEEE-1394 firewire support.
Thankfully, the added bandwidth that USB 2.0 provides should
be plenty for any external components. Tyan didn't
fill the box with much, but there's enough to get you up and
running. After getting past the bundle, it's always
nice to see what the board itself is equipped with.
Let's take a closer look at the Tyan S2495.
Under The Scope: Layout and Features
The Tyan S2495
Trinity KT400 carries most features an end user would like
to see on today's motherboards.
is the back I/O panel and the KT400 Northbridge cooler.
The ports on the back panel are pretty straight forward.
We have the PS/2 mouse and keyboard connectors. Two
serial ports and a parallel port are here, as well as four
USB 2.0 ports and an RJ-45 LAN jack with LED's. Also
on the back are the audio jacks: a line-in, line-out and mic-in
port. The Tyan S2495 also has a SPDIF out pin-header.
All together, this board offers 6 channel sound. Tyan
chose a blue heatsink to lift the heat off their
Northbridge. It is held in place by two plastic spring
clips. As far as actual contact with the Northbridge
chip itself, there is a sticky thermal pad in place under
the heat sink. I'd like to see thermal paste there but
a thermal pad is better than nothing. While in
operation the heat sink was warm to the touch so it appeared
to be doing a satisfactory job.
The layout of
the board has some issues but for the most part, it is
workable. The CPU socket itself is guarded on both
sides, with other components, which will limit the size of
any aftermarket heat sinks one can use to cool the CPU.
On one side, we have can-type capacitors that sit extremely
close to the CPU socket and on the other side, just as
close, is the DIMM1 slot. When there is a memory
module in the DIMM1 slot, there is only about a half an inch
of space between it and the CPU socket. The board has
three DIMM slots which are in the usual location on the
upper right hand part of the board, but as I mentioned, a
little close to the CPU socket. The AGP slot is much
too close to the DIMM slots and any work with memory modules
will require the removal of the video card. There are
four IDE ports on the board. The two red IDE
connectors offer the IDE RAID support and the two blue
connectors are your standard primary and secondary IDE
slots. Just to the left of the IDE connectors is the
floppy drive connector. However, the Tyan S2495
motherboard has a pretty straight forward design and I
didn't experience any major issues. The biggest
problem I see is not being able to add a larger heat sink on
top of the CPU, which may disappoint the overclocker inside
The board itself
offers some very nice features. Both IDE RAID support
( RAID 0, 1, 0+1 ) and Serial ATA RAID support are on this
board. The IDE RAID is offered by the onboard
Highpoint 372N controller, while the SATA RAID is handled by
the onboard Silicon Image 3112 chip. Offering two
different kinds of RAID support is an excellent feature,
especially since hard drives have become very affordable and
a RAID array is much more realistic these days. There
is an AGP 8X/4X slot and 6 PCI v2.2 expansion slots, so
there is plenty of room for add in cards, if you feel the
need. The 6 channel onboard audio is provided by the
ALC650 CODEC. Although I can't say the sound is as
impressive as the nForce2 solution, it does do a good enough
job for most pc enthusiasts. Only true audiophiles
will feel the need for an add in sound card. Ethernet
is powered by the VIA VT6103 and is of the 10/100Mb/s
variety. As far as hardware monitoring goes, the board
has three fan pin-headers, but only two of them are
monitored in the BIOS. There is also an LED display to
post boot codes. Wow, that was a lot to mention.
I wasn't kidding when I said Tyan dumped a lot of goodies on
this board. Let's take a look at the bios and see what
we can tweak on this board.
Tyan went with
an Award BIOS to drive this particular board. While
this BIOS does offer some good choices for those interested
in overclocking, I don't feel it will give all the
necessities for getting an extraordinary overclock.
Let me first start by saying that this is as stable and
solid a motherboard at default settings, that I have had the
pleasure of working with. With that said, let's talk
about what options one does have when attempting to
overclock this motherboard. There are voltage
adjustments for the CPU in 0.25V increments all the way up
to 2.2V! Plenty of room to give that CPU some extra
kick, although this will be limited by the fact that a
larger heat sink will not be there to offset the increased
heat from such a voltage adjustment. The DIMM voltage
is adjustable in 0.025V increments up to +0.175V. This
will give that extra needed power to hit the DDR400 plateau
perhaps, on modules that aren't up to the challenge at
default voltage. The CPU clock can be adjusted
anywhere between 100MHz to 200MHz by keying in a value.
I would've like to see this board support a FSB higher than
200Mhz, but we'll have to make do. The CPU multiplier
can also be adjusted anywhere in the range of 5X to 22.5X.
I think this is one of the best choices to have in the BIOS
because this gives you the best opportunity to hit that
sweet spot for both the memory and CPU overclock, as long as
you have modified those Athlon traces and unlocked your CPU.
Besides voltage, the DIMM timings can be adjusted.
There are quite a few timing variables that are adjustable
such as CAS Latency, Bank Interleave, Precharge to Active,
etc. To make a long story shorter, all the DIMM
timings you need are there to push those memory modules to
the fullest. There is also a PC Health Status screen
to monitor the temp of the CPU and motherboard as well as
fan speeds and various voltages. The power on this
board seems to be adequate as the default Vcore comes in at
1.61V and Vagp registers at 1.53V.
While this bios
offers some very strong points for overclocking there are
some shortcomings as well. For instance, neither the
PCI nor AGP bus speeds are lockable. So any increase
to the FSB will, in turn, crank up the bus speed to both the
PCI and AGP slots. This will create some instability
with high overclocks and could possibly be the limiting
factor to a higher overclock. There is no AGP voltage
adjustment which further hinders any increase to the AGP
bus. I think the most limiting factor to this board,
however, is its inability to set DDR400 with a FSB over
133MHz. When you enter the Frequency/Voltage Control
menu, there is a DRAM timing setting which can be set to By
SPD, 133, 166, and 200MHz. The only problem with this
setting is that it is locked as soon as you enter a FSB
value greater than 133MHz. Sadly to say, since I'm
testing this board with an Athlon XP 2600+ 333MHz FSB chip,
I can only try and reach the DDR 400MHz setting by getting
the FSB to 200MHz. Not an easy overclock with a stock
AMD heatsink/fan or any heatsink/fan really.
In summary, the
BIOS offers some nice settings, but lacks the features to
make it a pure overclocker's board but then again, that is
not the be all end all, is it? Nonetheless, this board
proved to be extremely solid. Moving away from the
BIOS, let's take a look at our setup and the benchmark
results as well as what stable overclock I was able to
achieve. You will probably be surprised!