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Transcend AVE3 Socket 370 VIA Apollo Pro 133A
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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Transcend AVE3 Socket 370 VIA Apollo Pro 133A - Page 1

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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Transcend AVE3 Socket 370 VIA Apollo Pro 133A - Page 2

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

By, Marco ?BigWop? Chiappetta
June 7, 2000

  
Installation and Setup
Quick and painless


Physical installation of this board is a snap, as it is with just about every other ATX board available.  Depending on what CPU type you?ll be using, there is a jumper that needs to be shorted to set up the board for use with a Celeron, PIII or Cyrix CPU.  There are also jumpers to manually set the FSB but leaving them set to their default configuration allows for FSB selection via the BIOS.  Should you choose not to use the on-board audio, there is also a jumper to disable it.

The AVE3 comes with an installation CD that holds VIA?s 4-in-1 drivers, which you should install to properly take advantage of the performance and features of this board.  However, there is a newer version (4.22) available on VIA?s site which I recommend using.  Once the board is mounted and your cards are installed, installing the VIA driver set is the only other step.  The software installation went without a hitch.  Drivers for the on-board audio are embedded within Windows, so for some of you not installing a fresh copy of Windows, your Windows CD may be needed.

Our Test System
Ready to rock

Intel PIII 600 (at 600mhz & 744mhz), 256mb Mushkin 2-2-2 PC133 ram, 3dfx Voodoo5 5500, IBM 22GXP HD, Plextor UltraPlex 40max, Windows 98SE, DirectX 7.0a and VIA 4-in-1 v4.22

Overclocking The AVE3
What's up with that?

This board is a strange duck when it comes to overclocking.  Although it has the ability to adjust core voltage by 10% and has FSBs from 66-150mhz, the manner by which the FSBs are selected won?t appeal to the hardcore overclocker.  Should you be using a processor that uses a 66MHz FSB by default, the AVE3 will only allow you to select FSBs between 66 and 95MHz.  If your processor uses a 100MHz FSB, by default you can select FSBs between 100 and 124MHz. Finally, f your processor uses a 133MHz FSB, you?ll be able to select FSBs between 124 and 150MHz.  With many of today?s PIII E chips,  overclocking to FSBs over 133mhz and the Celeron IIs overclocking well past FSBs of 100MHz., the AVE3 won?t be able to get you to that ?next level?.  Hopefully in a future BIOS revision this quirk will be worked out.  We?ll keep you posted.

 

Benchmarkign The AVE3
Quick as a bunny

 

We did however, have some good results when overclocking this board.  The benchmarks scores speak for themselves.  Let?s see how it did using SiSoft Sandra 2000.

PIII @ 600                                              PIII @ 744
    

PIII @ 600                                              PIII @ 744
    

Memory throughput has really improved with the later revisions of the VIA 133a Chipset.

PIII @ 600                                              PIII @ 744
    

The Transcend AVE3 does not disappoint in terms of performance, however this processor has Overclocked higher in other motherboards.  If the AVE3 would have allowed us to select any of its available FSBs, I?m fairly certain it would have passed with flying colors.  Memory performance is slightly lower than some other VIA 133a based boards we've used, but only by a slight margin. 

    

We also ran ZD Winbench 2000 while overclocked to give you a general idea of the overall performance to expect:

These are very respectable numbers across the entire spectrum.  We would also like to add that throughout testing we did not experience any stability issues whatsoever.  The Transcend AVE3 is a rock solid performer.

 


With the exception of the quirky FSB selection there really isn?t anything to hold against the AVE3  and future BIOS revisions may even eradicate that "problem".  It was a solid performer and didn?t skip a beat throughout our entire barrage of testing.  If Transcend?s service and support prove to be good in the future, we expect to see more great things from them later on down the line. 

We'll give the Transcend AVE3 Socket 370 Motherboard a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of...

 

Get in and air it out in the HotHardware Conference Room!

 

 


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