Originally Published: Friday, 5 May 2000 Author: Jeff Garzik
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Tyan Trinity 400 Review

Looking for a good desktop performer or game machine at low cost? Consider Tyan's new Trinity 400, a motherboard that certainly fits the bill. So plug in your Intel processor of choice and let's get to the details....

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Looking for a good desktop performer or game machine at low cost? Consider Tyan's new Trinity 400, a motherboard that certainly fits the bill. So plug in your Intel processor of choice and let's get to the details....

The Board - Tyan Trinity 400 Via Apollo Pro 133A chipset Integrated ATA-33/66 support for up to four Ultra DMA drives Support for AGP 1X/2X/4X devices Three 168-pin DIMM sockets supports up to 768MB One AGP slot, six PCI slots, and one ISA slot Slot1, FC-PGA370, and Socket370 processor slots PC133 SDRAM support (also supports slower, more common SDRAM) Hardware monitoring - Including fan speed, voltages, System environment, and temperature

Installation Installation was both surprisingly easy, and surprisingly flexible. The Celeron 400 CPU used for this review came with its own Slot1 adapter, which made it easy to test both the PGA370 and Slot1 interfaces. Installing the CPU in either case was a snap. Since most of the components on the board are located away from the main CPU slots, it was quite easy to locate or relocate the CPU at a whim without disturbing other hardware plugged into the board.

The same cannot be said for the drive cables however. The IDE ports and floppy drive controllers are located near the edge of the motherboard, making motherboard installation a bit more troublesome for many tower and mini-tower ATX cases. Aside from that problem, the layout is very god. The serial, input, and USB ports are all enclosed in their own risers, which eliminates the tedious task (found on some other motherboards) of attaching additional cables simply to use basic features.

Tyan's choice to abandon an ISA slot in favor of PCI is obviously a good one. More and more peripherals require PCI slots, and no vendor in their right mind sells ISA cards anymore. It should be noted that using all six PCI slots will probably lead to the common problem of bus mastering arbitration not being optimal, but with a fast board like this you can afford to overlook such things.

The Linux distribution of choice (Linux-Mandrake of course) installed flawlessly, booting directly from the CD. Given the ATA-33 Via IDE chipset on board, it was no surprise when the complete CD install took less than five minutes. Thank you, Ultra DMA CD-ROM! After rebooting, Mandrake's hdparm hard drive optimizations kick in. Even though the full ATA-33 support is not yet available in the 2.2.x kernels -- a 2.3.x kernel is required to fully utilize this chipset -- the hdparm optimizations still make for impressive bandwidth and speed.

Score: 8/10

Performance Performance is comparable to the Intel 820 chipset / RDRAM-based motherboards. It may be slightly faster than the 820 in some cases due to the support of PC133 and AGP4x. See ATA-66 support. You should review that and your own personal situation before making a purchase decision.

AGP performance was phenomenal. In order to test the AGP support, an ATI Rage Pro AGP card was used in this test. Although bleeding edge software is required in order to utilize AGP under Linux currently -- 3D ATI drivers from CVS and the 'agpgart' module in the 2.3.x kernels -- that is a small price pay considering the performance. Quake 3 ran like a dream, with a noticeable performance improvement over the same card in a faster Dual P-II SMP box! You can now count me among the fans of AGP 4x.

Score: 7/10, due to note from Tom's H/W about ATA-66

Value When choosing a Via chipset for their motherboard, Tyan concentrated on value. This motherboard comes with a -lot- of bang for your buck. The AGP performance alone is enough to turn the head of a serious gamer. The ATA-66 support and PCI slots will make this motherboard a good foundation for a powerful desktop system, or medium-class server system. Throw in WinBond hardware monitoring (included), dual USB hubs, and the other goodies included, and it makes for quite affordable and capable Linux system.

Score: 9/10

Overall Aside from the ATA-66 support problems, this motherboard is the pick of the lot -- the first of many more high performance PC133 motherboards that will be appearing on store shelves and Web sites very soon. If you are a gamer, or just enjoy 3D graphics, the AGP 4x capabilities will undoubtedly win you over. And for computing or bus intensive tasks, the PC133 and ATA-66 capabilities will surely keep up with just about anything you can throw at it.

Overall score: 8.0





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