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Review- FIC AN11

Hardware Pub gratefully recognizes FIC's support in making this review possible!

Review by Edward Chang, call sign: Big_E

May 10, 2002

 

 

Introduction:

As their company name infers, FIC is the first international motherboard manufacturer. With the numerous mainboard makers competing in the market, FIC has to distinguish themselves over the others. Well, over the years, FIC has left their mark. They made their debut during the good old Socket-7 days, with the popular and overclock-friendly VA-503. Since then, FIC has been providing good motherboards at affordable prices to the consumer, such as their AZ11 line of motherboards. Although FIC took a furlough from the VIA/AMD motherboard sector, they recently made a strong back with a nice KT266A motherboard called the AN11 Stealth. Hardware Pub will evaluate this advanced motherboard today.

 

Company Profile:

"First International Computer, Inc. (FIC), founded in 1980, are one of the World's leading companies in the design and production of mainboards, PC systems, servers and notebooks. FIC Facts & Figures (1998) Founded in 1980 Financially strong, publicly listed company Worldwide revenue: US$1.3 billion 9 branch offices and 8 manufacturing and assembly sites in 4 continents 202,706 sq. meters of manufacturing capacity 4,500+ employees worldwide As a highly flexible and adaptable company, FIC are firmly established in OEM/ODM and distribution markets. A leading supplier for many of the industry's leading PC brand names, FIC also offer a comprehensive range of mainboards for the distribution market under the 1stMainboard brand name" (Company Profile).

Introducing the Motherboard:

EPoX 8K3A+

(Click on image for closeup)

This board has changed in design since the FIC AZ11 VIA KT133/A-based motherboard line. FIC did not make a KT266 motherboard, rather went with the AMD 761 last. At first glance, the motherboard looks more complicated than any FIC board I have seen. It also features a new dark color scheme. One of these days, there will be no more green PCB. The space around the CPU socket was a little tight, but it is manageable to fit a Globalwin CAKII-38 heatsink-fan used in this test system. The ATX connector is positioned at the default location. IDE connectors were in easy reach of the IDE devices. This motherboard has made a full migration from ISA to PCI slots, featuring 5 PCI slots, an ACR Slot, and 1.5v AGP Slot.

Upon a closer examination, one will notice the use of dip-switches on this motherboard. The dip-switch in the picture above controls the CPU Voltage select. It ranges from 1.475 to 1.850 Volts. Like its predecessor, the AN11 also has a couple jumpers around the board that enable or disable manual CPU voltage and multiplier ratio changes. It was awkward for FIC to include a jumper for unlocking the CPU ratio change, but failing to include dip-switches for altering the default multiplier clock. Perhaps this will be integrated on future revisions of the motherboard, as previous FIC KT133-based motherboards had such a dip-switch. FIC has also incorporated a decent-sized cooler on the KT266A-northbridge to keep it cool, unfortunately, we were unable to test the full overclock potential of this motherboard with a locked Athlon XP processor. The CPU FAN power connector was located in a rather peculiar place, forcing the wire to nearly stretch its full length. The close proximity of the AGP slot to the memory also made it difficult, but not impossible, to remove DDR memory from the slots when we had an ATi Radeon 8500 installed. There were no capacitors in the way of the video card. FIC also took the precaution to utilize an AGP card retention device that will grasp onto the hook at the end of the AGP connector. This is good as it secures the video card for those who may not use a screw to keep it in place (though not recommended), but adds time to removing the video card.

This picture shows the vicinity around the southeast section of the motherboard. Observe the VIA VT8233 southbridge with the holographic "1st" sticker on it. The Stealth also sports a Promise RAID controller, which sets itself apart from the HighPoint RAID controllers Hardware Pub is use to seeing. The RAID connectors situated at the bottom right are reachable by cables.

Now, let's take a look at the board's features.

 

 

Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R

Radeon 4890

Conficker Virus

Goliathus Mouse Pad

Hard Drive Destruction

OLPC=The Next Newton?

QPAD Gaming Mousepad

FSP BoosterX 5

Fusion Side Marker

eStarling ImpactV

Itami FiTrainer

Patriot WARP 128GB

Cyber Snipa 5.1

Game Bag 2.1

System Cache

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