The Transcend TS-AVE3 Motherboard
- VIA Apollo Pro
133A Chipset (694X+ 686A)
- Up to 1,5 GB
SDRAM(PC-100/PC-133) or VCM
- Built-in AC97
- Award BIOS with
Green, ACPI, APM, Plug and Play, DMI functions
- 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
Transcend has been around since 1988. They were
best known for their quality memory products. Their memory products cover
the entire digital spectrum, including high-end workstations, servers, desktops,
notebooks and PDAís, printers, digital cameras, fax machines and even Game
Consoles. With over 12 years of experience in research and design, transcend
is a company ready to challenge todayís tight technology competition. We are
taking a look at transcends TS-AVE3 motherboard, itís our very first and not
last Transcend product being reviewed in the lab.
The TS-AVE3 is transcends FC-PGA 370 motherboard
based on the latest VIA 694X/686A AGP set. The AVE3 board features a jumperless
control panel for front side bus adjustments. The JP4 jumper allows you to
set the FSB speed in three different options: 66, 100, 133MHz. When you go
for the 66Mhz option, you would have the choice of going from 66MHz to 95MHz
through the frequency/Voltage BIOS Control. When the jumper is set to 100MHz,
you have the choice of selecting a system bus frequency from 100-124MHz. At
last, when itís set at 133MHz you can select a frequency from 124 to 150MHz.
A total of nine 1500Uf Sanyo 6.3 volts capacitors
are available around the CPU socket. Twelve 1000Uf 6.3v Sanyo capacitors are
spreaded around the DIMM and PCI slots and several smaller are spreaded all
over the PCB to maintain full operating stability.
The AVE3 features a standard expansion interface
for an Appollo133A board (PCI/ISA/AMR/AGP). It features one ISA slot; for
the folks using older peripherals, followed by an AMR slot and continuing
with five PCI slots. I would personally prefer this board come with six PCI
slots. This could have been easily done by eliminating the AMR slot as the
AMR interface didnít see any use with retail customers and I would be ready
to bet that it wonít see anything promising for at least another few months.
Of course, an AGP slot is available, featuring AGP4X support.
This product features three DIMM slots, considered
as a standard for this particular chip-set. You can go as high as 1.5GB of
memory. Supported memory includes synchronous DRAM, Virtual Channel Memory
and ECC memory. The ECC feature can be used to check the memory sub system
and make sure there are no errors during the memory read and write phases.
Before enabling this option, you need to make sure your memory modules are
compatible with the ECC feature.
The DIMM slots donít interfere with the AGP slot
when the video card is inserted. This little problem has been noticed on several
of todayís motherboards and it generally results in unpleasant experiences.
The Layout it self is very well suited for a FC-PGA motherboard and offers
what we would expect of that quality product.
As you may already saw, the positioning of the
HDD/FDD connector ports are very comfortable, as they are out of the way of
all components. This board features two 40-pin IDE connectors marked as IDE1
and IDE2. Each connector supports two IDE devices. The Blue IDE connector
marked as IDE1 is the one supporting the UDMA/66 standard.
The AVE3 boards features a built in 3D Audio
Chip also known as the AC 97 codec. This particular chip-set is very similar
to the sound-blaster 16 card, and should satisfy most of the users. However
if you are playing a lot of games or use a multi-channel sound system, you
would be better with a normal high end audio card as the SBLIVE or MX400.
The implanted audio card features five different video connectors on the PCB.
These connectors allow you to receive stereo audio input from sound sources
such as CD-ROM drives and TV Tuners.
One of my favorites features on this board is
the support for four USB ports. Transcend included an external USB connector
featuring two optional USB inputs. However, itís not perfect when touching
the expansion scene. This External connector must be plugged in an 8-pin male
port on the motherboard, and this male port is situated right in front of
the fifth PCI slot. This results in an interfering problem. I tried to insert
a standard 3COM Ethernet Adapter and two different sound-cards (SBLIVE, MX400)
and didnít have any luck as the cable of the USB adapter was blocking the
way. I canít confirm that this problem will persist with all PCI cards, but
from my test, it seemed like it will with most.
Transcend included one IDE cable, an 80-pin cable
for newer hard-drives based on the UDMA/66 Standard, and one FDD cable is
also bundled to use with your floppy drive. A good manual covering all the
features and specification is included, and last a Transcend branded CD-ROM
including the sound drivers, utilities and some troubleshooting information.
Transcend has done a great job on the TS-AVE3
motherboard. Stability and good documentation are two of the biggest qualities
we could sort out on that specific product.
One of the biggest negative points is touching
the design of the motherboard. Everything is well positioned, if talking about
the DIMM slots and the IDE connectors. This board suffer mostly in the not
logic construction, an example is the poor placement of the male connection
for the external USB expansion. Itís simply not positioned in the right place.
Taking another look at the PCB, there were several other places where that
specific interface could have been installed without causing any expansion
problems. A second negative of the construction aspect is the placement of
the on-board sound connectors: they too can cause interfering problems with
some PCI cards.
Our third criticism deals with the fan connectors.
Transcend included only two connectors on the PCB, compared to todayís standard
which is three. The TS-AVE3 could be considered as an interesting product
for people looking to spend a small amount of money for a quality motherboard.
The AVE3 board is priced somewhat less than some of Transcendís competition.
The product performed very well, but because of some poor layout and a lack
of a third fan connector, the AVE3 canít touch an 8.5/10 rating, we award
it a 8.0.