The DFI PA61
VIA Apollo Pro133 mainboard

Wednesday, December 15, 1999

The performance tests results

All tests were all performed under Windows98.

The system setup was as following:

Motherboard: DFI PA61
CPU: Intel Pentium II 350mhz
Memory: 64mb of Mushkin PC133 SDram
IDE first channel Primary port: Quantum Fireball KA 9.1gig UDMA66
IDE second channel Primary port: Kenwood 48X True X
AGP slot: ATI Rage Fury 128GL
OS: Win98 4.10
DirectX 6.1

Note: all test were performed with the Turbo mode (105Mhz) enabled.

Winbench 99 CPUmark


For its first try, the DFI PA61 motherboard does quite well in
obtaining a score that positions it towards the middle of the pack.



Winstone 99



Here again, the FDI PA61 scores well. In this test, the PA61 was analyzed in normal operational mode (top results), and Overclocked to 434Mhz (results at the bottom). In both cases, you can see that the DFI PA61 maintains a position a little below the middle of the group.



Video Sub-System Tests

Again, the PA61 obtains results that correspond
with the previous results.



Thanks to the PC133 memory supplied by Mushkin, we were able to tweak our PII-350Mhz to 434Mhz for this test. We can see immediately, that the DFI PA61 takes advantage of the situation, and sails up to the upper echelons of the pack.

Disk Sub-System Tests



Overall Quality Evaluation

The evaluation table below shows both the strong and weak points of the tested motherboard. No need to remind you that performance is not the sole purchasing criteria in a motherboard. Most of today's motherboards exhibit performance very close to each other, so we need additional information in order to help us distinguish the real advantages of a motherboard compared to its competitors. This is exactly where this evaluation table comes in handy.

DFI PA61 VIA Apollo Pro133 mainboard

Feature

Evaluation

Design Originality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Circuit Board Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Component Layout

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Capacitiors

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

CPU Retention Mechanism

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Amounts of Expansion Slots

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

2

Amount of Memory sockets

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Ease of installation

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

BIOS Setup Design

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Performance

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Overclockability

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Stability

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

5

Bundled Software

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

3

Bundled Hardware

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

3

Users Manual Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

3

Packing Quality

Poor

Good

Average

Excellent

Top Grade

4

Features supported

ATA66

PC133

Wake On LAN

Modem ring

Pwr Fail Res

5

Features supported (suite)

SB-Link

AMR

Mouse Pwr On

Susp. to RAM

Susp. to Disk

2

Features supported (suite)

IRDA

SCSI

Keyb. Pwr On

Hardw. mon.

Vcore adj.

3

Features supported (suite)

RAID

Alarm

Soft Menu

L2 latency adj.

IRQ assign.

3

Total Score obtainned for this motherboard

78 point out of 100

Features color codes: Blue = supported, Red = optional, Black = not supported

The DFI PA61 scored 78, out of a possible 100 points. See below for details.



The Weak Points

The PA61's weak points are these: a PCI to ISA ratio of 4/3 unoptimised that would have been better at 5/2 or 6/1, the presence of only 3 DIMM sockets, and a user's manual that contains only brief installation instructions. The absense of several interesting functions, such as processor voltage adjustment, multiple Suspend modes, and the ability to adjust the frequency of the memory bus, would all have benefited this board. Finally, both in the printed, and CD versions of the user's manual, many information about the meaning of several memory settings in the BIOS are missing; almost as if to change these settings were being discouraged...



The Strong Points

The PA61's strong points are these: Nice performance, excellent stability, and the inclusion of hardware monitoring as a standard feature.



Conclusions

The DFI PA61 motherboard has few features to speak of. In effect, seeing as how it is not gifted with any features to distinguish it, it remains a fairly conservative board. Its nice performance, and excellent stability are certainly elements that are looked for, and the market is so replete with competitors, that people are often drawn towards products with a little something more. It's funny, but I sometimes get the impression that certain manufacturers don't really want to sell there particular line of wares, and prove it by selling a plain product packed in an box with nothing more. The DFI PA61 is certainly a good board, but a few extra features, a software bundle a bit more generous, a few extras in the hardware bundle, and it could have been a much more appealing board. In short, it's not from a technical standpoint that we reproach the PA61, but it neither stands as a device that filled us with any particular excitement.

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