Tyan S1590 Review

Tyan S1590 Trinity 100AT Mainboard

Since 1991 the Tyan Co. has set it sites on building system boards of superior quality and innovative design, and the Trinity 100AT in no way departs from that goal.   Unique in the Super7 AT form factor, it's incorporation of 4 PCI and 4 ISA expansion slots, as well as its requisite AGP slot, provide not only a great degree of expansion, but also ample room for your legacy devices.  And by coupling both AT and ATX power connectors even paves the way for a future case upgrade.

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The Trinity 100AT mainboard's layout is a stiking departure from every other super7 AT mainboard this reviewer has so far seen.  By pushing the SIMM & DIMM slots all the way into the upper right-hand corner and the CPU's ZIF socket almost all the way to the bottom right, the Tyan Trinity 100AT is currently the only board that easily accepts more than one full-length PCI card (it can accept 3).  This means that this mainboard can easily handle dual VoodooČ accelerators for operating in SLI mode as well as a DVD decoder board and a TV tuner card, if you like. This expansion capable design has a few drawbacks though. An array of capacitors below the CPU's ZIF socket make attaching your heatsink/fan combo somewhat of a chore and the upper left corner where the IO, IDE, LPT, COM & FDD connectors reside is somewhat cramped. 

On the plus side though, this board is loaded.  The incorporation of the VIA MVP3 chipset provides support for an asynchronous CPU/Memory bus allowing you to run the system RAM at the same speed as the AGP bus.  This is important if you want to be able to upgrade without having to spend a good size chunk of change on PC100 SDRAM as it allows you to retain and use your regular SDRAM DIMMs.  There are a pair of SIMM slots as well which means you don't even need to have DIMMs as long as your Fast Page or EDO SIMMs can handle 66MHz.

The Trinity 100AT features a Full 1MB L2 SRAM cache allowing a cacheable memory area of 256MB and front side bus settings of 60/66/75/83/95 and 100MHz.  Clock multipliers range from 2.5 - 5.0 and documented core voltage suport for 2.0/2.1/2.2/2.7/2.8/2.9/3.2/and 3.3v add up to support all of the current Socket 7 processors.

Tyan was quite thorough, packaging this board with an array of port connectors and cables - to get you started, a driver CD with the latest Bus Master, Port Router, PCI and AGP drivers for Windows 95/98, along with, what has to be the best beginners manual ever created for a Super7 mainboard.  Step by step instructions with a variety of cautionary notices ensure that you will get this board setup correctly the first time.   You will also find jumper configuration to be a simple task with clear documention both within and on the back cover of the manual as well as clearly marked on the mainboard itself.

With Tyan's excellent reputation I  had expected top quality and performance from this board and was in no way disappointed.  The board ran rock solid without a hiccup at every bus speed, clock multiplier and core voltage I threw at it and believe me I tried them all.  (I even managed a clean boot and stable performance out of AMD's K6-2 300MHz processor at a core voltage of 2.0 with the FSB running at 60MHz and the clock multiplier set at 5.0.) It performed equally as stable when running older EDO SIMMs, although for performance' sake I recommend the use of PC100 whenever possible.

Testing the S1590S

As always I should mention that most Super7 mainboards post Business Winstone scores within a point or so of each other and you would be wise to decide on a super7 mainboard using it's technical specifications and features over performance marks.  For Business Winstone 98 benchmarking the Trinity 100AT I used the following setup:

Testing Configuration

Mainboard Tyan S1590 Trinity 100AT
BIOS Award 4.51
L2 Cache 1024k
Processor(s) Intel Pentium 200 MMX
AMD K6-2 300/333
Cyrix MII 300/333
Memory 64MB PC100 (8ns)
Display Adapter Dimond Viper 330 4MB AGP
Hard Disk Drive Western Digital AC33100
Operating System Windows 98

Scores displayed are the average of 5 runs for each of the processors used.  As the board's stability was outstanding no reruns of any test were necessary.  All processors were run at their default settings with the exception of the Intel P55C 200 MMX which ran at a frontside bus speed of 100MHz and a clock multiplier of 2.0....

Conclusion
While the Trinity 100AT lacks the higher (112-124MHz) front side bus frequencies so coveted by overclockers, the quality, stability, performance, reasonable pricing and the Tyan name more than make up for these omissions. 

Super7 Gold!

The built-in expandability as well as the room for legacy devices, ease of installation, excellent technical support, outstanding documentation and glitch free operation, all combine to make this our current #1 AT mainboard.  So, if you've been thinking about dropping a new mainboard into that ol' AT case you got last Christmas, leave your doubts at the door and pick this one up
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