Sure It's An "LX" Board, but...
With Intel's recent announcements about moving their Celeron processors on to a 100MHz front side bus, Iwill's development of a socket 370 mainboard based on Intel's LX core logic may have been a bit premature. Still, it will be some little while until the new Celerons will make their appearance. So, if you are in need of an ultra easy, high quality, high performance, low cost system upgrade, you probably don't need to look much further than Iwill's LE370 mainboard. Simple to install and packed with all of the features that Iwill is famous for, the LE370 is simply exquisite for the first-time upgrader and offers great expandability for those on a tight budget.
Along with the necessary IDE and floppy cables, the LE370 ships with an explicit and concise "Quick Reference Guide" that easily allows you to set up the system board with a minimum of fuss. The Iwill "Power Installer" CD-ROM is also in the box offering all of the necessary drivers, online manual, OEM version McAfee VirusScan software and "Hardware Doctor" system monitoring utility.
Iwill demonstrates it's market savvy by incorporating Aureal's A3D sound on board the LE370. Supporting the new 370-pin Celeron A processor with 128K on-die cache from current 300, 333 up to 466MHz speeds and reserves 500, 533Mhz selection for future upgradability. Jumperless CPU external bus speed and clock multiplier settings are set through Iwill's Smart Setting screen in BIOS configuration. Three DIMM slots on board offer support for up to 768MB of unbuffered or ECC SDRAM or up to 384MB of 3.3v EDO RAM. The LE370 makes use of the Winbond W83977EF super I/O controller which supports two floppy disk drives (include 3 Mode drive) and / or QIC-80 tape drives, one multi-mode parallel port, two high speed 16550 FIFO serial ports, keyboard and PS/2 mouse and also offers support for power fail recovery. Along with a high speed AGP slot, the LE370 incorporates five PCI and two ISA slots, which, with the absence of need for a sound card, offers plenty of room for expansion.
The Winbond W83781 System Hardware Monitor chip along with the included "Hardware
Doctor"utility offer the latest in system hardware management. And, for you
audiophiles, the LE370 supports Creative's SB-LINK to deliver Sound Blaster 16
The LE370's layout is excellent although a single electrolytic can capacitor interferes with using a number of oversized heatsink/fan combos for extra cooling. The northbridge of the LX chipset is heatsinked to increase system stability and the expansion slots offer ample room for full-length expansion cards. CPU core voltage, external frequency and clock ratio are all handled either automatically or through software in the BIOS configuration so there's no need at all to worry about messing with jumpers. All you need to do is fit the system board in your case, pop in your CPU attach and hook-up the CPU fan, fit your DIMMs into their slots, connect your IDE, floppy and power connectors and front panel switches and LED's and you're ready for graphics card and other expansion cards. Once they're in, you're ready to boot.
The LE370 absolutely sings with stability and generated some fairly respectable benchmark scores. The system board was tested using Ziff-Davis' Business Winstone 98 performance benchmark, Futuremark's 3DMARK 99 MAX and Quake II's Demo 1 and Crusher FPS for OpenGL gaming performance and the Unreal fly-by FPS in D3D applications. The marks recorded after three runs of each benchmark are then averaged to reflect the scores here.
Test Configuration for IWILL LE370
|Chipset||Intel LX PCI/AGP set|
|L2 Cache||128kb on-chip|
|Processor(s)|| Intel PPGA370
Intel PPGA370 Celeron 400MHz
|Memory|| 1x64MB PC100
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
|Hard Drive|| Quantum
6.4G Ultra ATA/33
|Graphics Adapter||Diamond Viper 550 16MB AGP|
|Operating System||Windows 98|
Futuremark's 3DMARK 99 is not only a great benchmark application for testing your graphics card, the scores it reflects for performance in the form of 3Dmarks and synthetic CPU 3Dmarks can also be a gauge of how well your system can perform. The following are scores generated testing at a resolution of 800x600 and again are the average of three runs of each test...
I have also included the Quake II frame rates for Demo 1 & Crusher, and the D3D version of the Unreal flyby to demonstrate the board against a real world gaming application...
Really, the only thing that I can find wrong with this system board is it's lack of support for the 100MHz FSB. Also, even though I had no trouble at all when it came to overclocking the PPGA370 Celeron A, it would be nice to be able to adjust the core voltage. The system ran rock steady even at the 83mHz FSB setting and while Iwill specifically recommends against overclocking, stating that it will void your warranty, it's nice to know that the capability is there. Iwill has recently posted an excellent FAQ for the LE370 and here at The Super 7 Hardware Guide, we look forward to reviewing the company's production of a new line of socket 370 based boards, the BD370, with all of these features built around a core logic that can support the 100MHz bus. Until then, this is just a damned fine product. Iwill's implementation of the Aureal sound chip produces excellent quality 3D sound that really adds to your gaming experience and the system board is guaranteed Y2K compliant so, what are you waiting for...