I’ve got a smallish collection of motherboards, so I thought I would start a series of short posts with photos and a short commentary on each board. So without any further ado, here is the first board.
This one was made by ASUS roughly around 2000. It is a earlier socket A with a VIA Apollo chipset. This came with the hardware donation I received a while ago and was fitted in the large chassis. There is a Duron 800Mhz processor installed, along with some SDRAM. This board could take a fast for the time Athlon processor.
I found the manual for this board here on the ASUS website, in it I found everything needed to set up the board. It supports the technologies you’d expect for the time, but also one I hadn’t heard of. VCM or Virtual Channel Memory was an open standard developed by NEC. It was supposed to increase the memory bandwidth. It’s quite complicated from what I read on Wikipedia, so I won’t go into details, but it clearly wasn’t popular.
This board has a few other unusual features such as an AGP Pro 4x slot and a VRM that usually only made it to more expensive boards. Yet it also has some features that cheaper boards had such as the utterly silly AMR slot and lack of ISA slots.
I’d say this board was probably a middle-of-the-range board, clearly it is better than the cheapest, but not as flash as the most expensive. Usually this is the sensible option, and that seems to be the case here. The choice of processor installed is a little bit of a mystery, as I expected to see something faster here.
From the perspective of a technician, this is a really nice board. It’s easy to set up because all the switches, headers and jumpers have a reference silk-screened on the board. You don’t really need the manual. It has plenty of features and supports faster hardware from the time period. The VRM module may have been a good feature, it could be replaced if it failed. Of course that is assuming you could easily get a replacement. The only downside is lack of legacy ISA support, so it wouldn’t suite upgrading when ISA slots were required.
Thus concludes the first of the Motherboard series, please let me know what you think.