Tyan S1598 Review

Introduction
With the success of VIA's MVP3 chipset, many super7 users were excited by the prospect of a new VIA chipset. The MVP4, when announced last year, had many of us chomping at the bit. Plagued by technical delays, mainboards built around the chipset finally hit the market to a rather lukewarm reception more than six months after it was first announced. And six months in a business that changes as rapidly as the PC hardware industry is a lifetime. For the most part users were totally disappointed with the rather average video performance and the inability to upgrade said video due to the lack of a supported AGP slot. 
TYAN, who since 1991 has focused on designing, manufacturing, and marketing high-performance PC system boards heard the cries of disgruntled super7 users, and had a brainstorm. Using the MVP3 northbridge of the VIA chipset, which supports AGP, high speed SDRAM, and the 100MHz front side bus, and incorporating the southbridge of the MVP4 chipset, which offers new technologies like Ultra ATA/66 support, Tyan developed, in its S1598 Trinity ATX mainboard a board which offers the best of both chipsets. We were quite excited when the announcement was made for the S1598 Trinity and immediately contacted Tyan to see if we could obtain a sample for review. Tyan graciously offered us the loan of one and I was somewhat perturbed with the condition of the package UPS brought, thinking I would have to wait for another sample, as the box appeared to have been stepped on by an elephant. Once installed however the board functioned fine so I was relieved and ready to put the Tyan S1598 Trinity ATX to the test.

Packaging
The S1598 Trinity ATX ships with the standard IDE and Floppy ribbon cables, a drivers CD-ROM and a detailed User's Manual. What is most noticeably missing from the box is the 40-pin, 80-wire ribbon cable necessary, for users that have a drive capable of it, to take advantage of the board's Ultra ATA/66 capabilities. The drivers CD-ROM offers the latest patches for the VIA chipset but currently offers nothing in the way of extras like hardware monitoring, antivirus or other utilities. Tyan has always had a good reputation as to their print manuals, and this included manual is as good as that reputation. Well illustrated and easy to follow, a careful perusal before unpacking will help you to set up the S1598 with a minimum of time and fuss.

Features
The S1598 offers support for frontside bus speeds of 60/66/75/83/95 and 100MHz and supports all current Intel Pentium, Pentium MMX, AMD k6/K6-2 and K6-III, Cyrix 6x86/MII and IDT C6 and C6+ processors. It supports CPU core voltages ranging from 1.3 to 3.5v in 0.1v increments and clock multipliers from 2.5 through 5.5 in 0.5x steps and comes stock with a full 1MB Pipeline Burst L2 cache - although Tyan offers 512k and 2MB optionally. Three DIMM slots offer support for up to 768MB of EDO, standard, parity, ECC or PC100 SDRAM. As to expansion, the S1598 offers what has to be considered the prime configuration of 5 x 32-bit PCI 2.1 bus master slots and 2 x 16-bit ISA slots (one shared) along with its requisite AGP graphics (supporting 66/133MHz) slot. Two 40-pin IDE connectors support up to four PIO mode 3/4, Ultra ATA33/66, and ATAPI devices and you'll find extended I/O capabilities such as the option for up to four USB ports (two standard - two which require and optional cable) to go along with the now standard single floppy connector, two fast UART serial ports, a single ECP/EPP parallel port infrared and PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors. Via's Super South I/O controller also offers optional onboard sound and the board as represented in the manual use's this manufacturing option however the sample sent to us for testing lacked this feature. This seems a wise decision by Tyan in that the majority of end users looking hard at this board would most likely prefer to use a more high performance sound card. Advanced features include a Wake on LAN header and wake on remote function.

Setup
For those of you unfamiliar with jumpers, it is highly suggested that you give the board and manual a thorough once over. CPU configuration depends on 12 jumper settings and you'll find that the jumpers are laid out out of order. This means you'll need to be extra careful.

Out of Order Jumpers

 The CPU socket is unusually located to the far right at the top of the board which can create problems with how your CD-ROM/DVD or CD-RW drives may be mounted if you use a heatsink fan combo of any height. As a general rule the CPU socket is located slightly left of center so that it can take advantage of the cooling properties of the power supply fan. Although a reasonably large mainboard (8.3"x12.0") the whole of the upper right quadrant seemed a bit crowded for my taste as the IDE and floppy connectors also reside in this area. Once the board is all hooked up the next step is to boot to CMOS setup or BIOS configuration. On boot the BIOS auto detects the UDMA mode (33/66) whichever your HDD supports and configures itself accordingly. Pretty much the standard fare here but you'll want to take notice that the S1598 allows you to assign IRQs to individual PCI slots. This feature has become commonplace on the newer Intel-based mainboards but is only found on a few super7 mainboards and is extremely helpful in resolving PnP hardware conflicts. 

Test Configuration for Tyan S1598 Trinity ATX

Mainboard S1598 Trinity
Chipset VIA MVP3 North
VIA MVP4 South
Processor(s) AMD K6-III 400MHz
AMD K6-2 450MHz
Memory 1x64MB PC100
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
Hard Drive Western Digital Expert 9.1G
Ultra ATA/66 7200RPM
Graphics Adapter Diamond Viper 550
Detonator v2.08 drivers
Operating System Windows 98

Performance
We put the Tyan S1598 Trinity ATX through a pretty standard battery of test using the configuration above. Please take note that the Western Digital Expert 9.1G HDD is a 7200 RPM high performance drive. In order to test the difference between Ultra ATA/33 and Ultra ATA/66 IDE modes we simply changed the IDE ribbon cable from the 40-pin, 80-wire Ultra ATA/66 to the standard 40-pin, 40-wire ribbon cable. Also, to be sure that we were getting the best video response available for the Viper 550 we used nVidia's Detonator v2.08 drivers for all of the tests. Once the benchmarking was finished we also tried V3, Matrox G200, Trident Blade3D and Voodoo Banshee based graphics cards for compatibility and found that all of them worked quite well with just a hint of tweaking. For sound we tossed in Creative's Blaster PCI512 EAX card and did have to assign an IRQ to the #4 PCI slot to keep it from conflicting with the US Robotics internal ISA modem. 
I have to admit that the nVidia Detonator drivers really perform well in this system and I was quite pleased with the frame rates we got in Quake II and 3DMarks from Futuremark's 3D MARK 99 MAX graphics subsystem benchmark even without tweaking the system in any way. The system did generate a very few minor errors during out stability stress test using the K6-III 400MHz processor. Our test is a simple batch file that simply runs the Ziff-Davis Winstone 99 battery of multitask business applications over and over until it generates more than three errors in a row or until we stop it. The S1598 seems to run the CPU a bit on the hot side but still ran at 98% level of stability at the processor's default settings.

You can see in the Business Winstone 99 scores above that Ultra ATA/66 does offer a performance increase.  The S1598 offers about the best Winstone marks I've seen in a super7 mainboard with 64MB of system memory. The graphics subsystem is, as well, one of the best we've seen as reflected in the 3D Mark 99 MAX scores below...

As to real world gaming, the Quake II demo1 timedemo frame rates are also pretty impressive...

I must mention though that this level of performance is due, for the most part, to the Detonator drives.

Overclocking
While no mainboard manufacturer openly supports overclocking many have seen fit to appeal to that aspect of the end user community however veiled. Tyan, on the other hand, seems to openly discourage overclocking and offers nothing in the way of higher external CPU frequencies.  This is wholly disappointing to find in a mainboard that could offer so much in the way of performance.  I was unable to get either of the AMD processors to boot to an increased clock multiplier and as such deem the S1598 almost completely un-overclockable.

Conclusion
For those interested in high performance without overclocking the Tyan S1598 Trinity offers clearly the strongest benchmark scores to date. And, while The Super 7 Hardware Guide gives full approval to the S1598 Trinity ATX, we are somewhat disappointed in its inability to overclock and lack of included software.  We applaud Tyan for the innovative design and hope that other mainboard manufacturers jump on the bandwagon and release similarly based system boards soon...
To find out more about the Tyan S1598 Trinity ATX and other fine mainboards, check out their web site at http://www.tyan.con  

 

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