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fastest super socket 7 mainboard?

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:02 am
by jeepster
I just ran AIDA and Sandra memory benchmarks, and both said
haha Alladin 5 or 7 pisses over your crippled VIA junk
So I wonder what chipset is best to have?
Apart from memory throughput, I would look at things like
does it cache more than 256 MB?
AGP ?x
can FSB overclock to say 112 MHz...

P.S. getting hold of such a board is another matter.
I occasionally see SS7 boards on eBay that get one bid of 99 cents,
but they are usually some 1998 dog with integrated video, USB1.1
and minimum voltage 2V etc.

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:28 pm
by Uranium235
"What's the fastest super 7 board?"

I think I've heard that question before once or twice....I'll tell you tomorrow. :wink:

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:22 pm
by Uranium235
With everything equal and with a k6-3 450 and 128Mb of RAM the Aladdin5 boards are quicker than the MVP3 boards. The 512k onboard L2 or L3 (with a K6-3 CPU) on the Aladdin5 boards is what hurt them limiting the amount of cacheable RAM to 128MB or 256MB on later revisions. Then the later revisions had issues running the K6+ CPU's.

The Aladdin7 chipset was a thing of beauty with it's dual-channel memory architecture that was way ahead of it's time. The few boards that exist came without any onboard cache, the BIOS's had very limited tweakability and the integrated video was lame which is impossible to disable. The 133FSB that these boards are supposed to be capable of cannot be used with any stability.

12 years ago I probably would have chosen an Aladdin5 based motherboard when a more than adequate 128MB stick of RAM was about $200 at the time. You ran Win95 or 98 and this setup was more than enough for most software then.
Today I would choose an MVP3 based motherboard with an onboard 2MB L2 cache, K6+ support up to 600Mhz and that could use up to 756MB of RAM. The Epox MVP3G5 being my favorite.

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:05 pm
by jsc1973
You never could get me to build a Super Socket 7 system with anything but the FIC VA-503+. It was a pain to set all of the jumpers, but once you did, they ran stable as an Intel system with an Intel motherboard. You could even stick a K6-2 550 (a hot, unstable piece of crap that AMD never should have sold) or a Cyrix on one and it would work.

The Aladdin 7 was created at a time when AMD was planning to release the K6-III at higher speeds, supposedly in the 700-800 MHz range. ALi decided to create a new chipset that would take the K6 series to a 133 MHz bus. But they were way behind schedule on it, and by the time it was ready, AMD's yields on the Athlon were so good that they decided to service the low-end market with the Duron, rather than with faster K6 models.

It was the right decision. I am certain that a second revision of the K6-III+ could have made 700 MHz, but they were expensive to manufacture. Also, the lack of L3 cache in the Aladdin 7 design pretty much castrated the K6-III, taking away a feature that was essential to its strong performance.

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:33 pm
by Uranium235
I never ran a FIC VA-503+, but I did acquire one a few years ago brand new. It's still sitting in the box here at home. That board was one of the most difficult to acquire on Ebay without paying a fortune for it due to all the bidding wars over one. I started collecting Super7 hardware a few years ago when I realized how scarce some of this stuff was getting.

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:33 pm
by jsc1973
I think FIC sold every one they ever made. It was one of the very last Super 7 boards to remain in production.

There are faster Super 7 boards, but it had three things going for it: 1) it supported FPM, EDO and SDRAM; 2) it could run RAM out of sync with FSB speed without losing stability or performance; and 3) it could support any Socket 7 CPU ever made.

FIC was even supportive enough that when the mobile K6 plus CPUs came out, they issued a new BIOS revision that supported it. A lot of Super 7 board makers never bothered.

It has two issues: the onboard USB doesn't work very well (it was a VIA reverse engineered hack-job of the USB spec), and the 124 MHz bus speed rarely works. But everything else was outstanding.

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:46 pm
by Jim
According to Kyle Brant, (The author of K6Speed), the FIC VA_503+ also had the fastest memory read of any of the VIA chipset boards.

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:37 pm
by Uranium235
@#$%* Damn, took a look tonight at my supposedly "NEW" VA-503+ that I had stashed away for a few years and all the capacitors around the CPU socket are bulging out at the top with several of them leaking. Was hoping to test this board out finally. Maybe someday when I'm bored I'll solder some new caps on....this sucks!

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:55 pm
by Jim
Oh-Oh, means I'd better look at mine. I figured it would be OK, cause I haven''t used it hardly at all. But it has been sitting unused for years. I thought the bad cap problem only showed up if you were using the board. i.e. putting electricity through the caps.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:05 pm
by Uranium235
I'm not sure exactly what happened but I'm beginning to wonder if this board was really new at all and I was sold a piece of trash in a nice shiny box. The box and anti-static bag were unsealed when I received it but I was told it was never used. It also came with a new manual and all the accessories in unopened plastic bags. Wouldn't be the first time I was screwed by a seller on Ebay.

This was the third VA-503+ I had won on Ebay.
The first one I won was a used board. It never ran stable from the beginning. I tried to flash the original BIOS to version JE4333 and the BIOS got corrupted in the process. All efforts to recover the BIOS failed. Unfortunately the BIOS chip is soldered to the motherboard so I can't replace the chip that easily. First time I ever had a badflash occur.
The second VA-503+ I won turned out to be an old TX chipset board stuffed into a VA-503+ box. I returned that one.
And now this. I'm striking out here. Buyer beware.

I'm finding more instances where the caps on these VA-503+ boards go bad from searching the web.

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:53 pm
by Jim
Yeah, I used one of them in Gloria's "Bingo Bunny" machine, and it eventually got the "Capacitor Problem"; but it lasted her about 4 years. EDIT : (Should say that I bought a few FIC VA_503+ boards USED. Who knows how much mileage they have on them). Also I only have 1 left, the one in Superpuppy 1, - My NT4 machine that I never use. I used it for that because at the time I built it NT4 was the only operating system I could get to shut down properly on an FIC VA_503+ board. That was before I learned the "Setup /P I" trick from Mulvihill.

Other thing, you should be aware of, is Kyle Brant also said the VA_503+ is VERY fussy about RAM. Only the best kinds are advised. That is probably what caused your bad flash, low grade RAM, = memory errors, = Flakey stability & bad flash.

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:13 am
by jsc1973
Weird. I've had mine for more than 11 years, probably run it for 7-8 years during that time, and it's never had a problem. FIC made the board as late as 2001, I wonder if the last revisions may have gotten some of the bad Chinese capacitors that mobo manufacturers were using at the time?

I've heard plenty of stories of VA-503+ motherboards from the late 1990s still going strong. The only boards I ever had with bad capacitors were some Leadtek and Soltek boards from the 2001-03 period that took the Athlon XP. But the 503 did have a production life that extended into that era.

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:29 pm
by Jim
For those who haven't seen it, here is a copy of the post made by "Kyle Brant"

Kyle wrote:The ALI chipset is a better memory speed performer, as you have found out. The fastest mvp3 board for memory performance was, in my experiences, the FIC 503+. However, it was so borderline on all settings that it required the highest quality memory sticks for stability.

The best data I can give you is a dump of the register setups for the chipset on a 503+, then you can go from there in tweaking your mvp3 boards using wcpredit and wcprset from H. Oda.

This data is from my 503+ system:

WPCREDIT Version 1.2a / Copyright (c) 1998-99 By H.Oda!
PCI Bus : 0 Vendor ID: 1106 VIA MVP3
Device : 0 Device ID: 0597 Host To PCI Bridge
Function: 0 Revision : 04 Host Bridge
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 0A 0B 0C 0D 0E 0F
+ -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
00 | 06 11 97 05 06 00 90 82 04 00 00 06 00 10 00 00
10 | 08 00 00 E6 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
20 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
30 | 00 00 00 00 A0 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
40 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
50 | 80 8A 05 50 00 00 00 00 98 00 10 10 18 20 20 20
60 | 0F 0A 00 23 12 12 04 00 01 00 50 01 10 47 00 00
70 | E1 8A EC 00 00 80 40 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 40
80 | 0F 45 00 00 E0 00 00 00 03 80 F7 00 00 00 00 00
90 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
A0 | 02 00 10 00 03 02 00 07 02 03 00 00 0E 00 00 00
B0 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
C0 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
D0 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
E0 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
F0 | 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 97 05

Which brings me to my next question. Since the ALI board is a better memory performer, the Advantage of the FIC would lie in the amount of RAM that can be cached, (and used), so my question directed at JSC 1973 is : Could you use 2 512 Meg sticks in an FIC VA_503+ ? (Only two SDRAM slots here).

Posted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:17 am
by KenB
Soldering on new caps isn't actually all that hard. I had to do it on a k7 board one time. Only a couple of caps were bad, though. If you had to do all the caps on the board, that would def be a P.I.T.A.

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:32 am
by Uranium235
I don't have the 503+ in front of me right now but there is at least six caps leaking or bulging on my motherboard. If I was to invest the effort into fixing it I may as well replace all the caps for durability. I may still fix it anyway because these boards are almost impossible to find in good condition.