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Home > Hardware Reviews > PC Parts

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
EQS M56K9-MLF

2. Features

Model M56K9-MLF
Socket 939
Form Factor Micro ATX
Northbridge ATi Xpress 200G (RS480)
Southbridge ATi IXP400
Bus Speed (FSB/BSB) 1000 MHz (2000 MT/s Upstream and Downstream)
Hyper Technology Hypertransport Technology with one 16-bit link supporting speeds up to 1GHz (2000MT/s) or 4GB/s in each direction. ATi HyperMemory Technology
Memory 4 x Dual Channel DDR400 (up to 4GB)
IDE Controller 2 x ATA-133 (UDMA 33/66/100/133)
Serial ATA Controller 4 x SATA-150 (Hardware RAID)
RAID Controller RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0 + 1 (Silicon Image)
Floppy Controller 1 x FDD
PCI Slot 2
PCI EXpress 16X PCI Express 16X Slot for graphics card
PCI EXpress 1X PCI Express 1X Slots for Add-on card
VGA ATi Radeon X300 PCI Express Technology (9600 core)
TV-out TV-Out via RCA/S-Video port
NTSC / PAL - Support Dual Display
Ethernet Realtek 81xx Series 10/100 Mbps LAN
USB Port 8 x USB 2.0 (4 on rear panel and 4 via connector)
FireWire 3 X IEEE1394 FireWire (VIA VT6307)
Sound 5.1 Audio Realtek ALC 55 Chipset
System Protection Hardware Monitoring with CPU and System Overheat Protection Trend Micro ChipAway BIOS Virus Protection
I/O Ports 1 x D-sub VGA Port
1 x ECP/EPP Parallel port / 1 x Serial Com ports (via cable)
1 x PS/2 Mouse port / 1 x PS/2 Keyboard port
1 x Speaker / 1 x Line-in / 1 x Mic-in ports / 1 x SPDIF Out
1 x RJ-45 / 4 x USB 2.0
Board Size 244 mm x 244 mm

MicroATX

The first thing you need to know about the M56K9 is that it's a MicroATX form factor motherboard. That means that it's smaller than regular ATX motherboards (24.4x24.4cm against 30.5x24.5cm ) and square in shape. However the board has no problem and can be easily installed, even in Mid-tower cases.

CPU Socket

The CPU socket follows the standard 939 design. To install the CPU you have to raise the small lever, plug in the processor and close the lever again. After that, apply thermal transfer paste on the processor and position the cooling set on it. The cooler requires no tools to install on the motherboard as you only have to fasten down another lever so that it hooks on the black plastic retention mechanism.

Northbridge

The ATi 200G located on the Northbridge is the heart of the EQS M56K9-MLF. It is the first chipset with an integrated DirectX 9.0 graphics core, but it's also responsible for some other features on the motherboard such as the AC97 sound, SATA, USB and of course, PCI-Express support.

The graphics core embedded in the 200G is a two pipeline version of the GPU powering the X300 graphics cards. However, as in all IGP's, in this case too, the graphics core needs memory to operate.

To solve this problem, ATi utilized its new technology, Hypermemory, which takes advantage of the bandwidth the PCI-Express bus offers to directly access physical memory. Through the BIOS, you can choose whether the memory will be dynamically allocated or a predefined amount of your memory will be used exclusively by the graphics core.

No dedicated memory on-board

Unfortunately, this architecture can cause some loss in performance as the memory controller will have to operate for both regular system usage and as a frame buffer to store the image that will be displayed on your screen. To minimize this loss, the reference board is designed with a small square located next to the 200G chipset, for an optional memory component to be used as dedicated frame buffer memory. However, EQS has not equipped the M56K9-MLF with any extra memory as you can see in the picture above.

Southbridge

The chipset located on the Southbridge of the M56K9-MLK is the ATi IXP400. A small black heatsink is responsible for its cooling, contributing to the motherboards fanless design.

 

Memory Banks

The M56K9-MLF motherboard offers Dual Channel memory support, but unlike other motherboards, in order to enable it you have to install two same-capacity memories in slots 1-2, or 3-4 instead of 1-3 and 2-4. Each slot can handle up to 1GB of physical memory resulting in a maximum memory size of 4GB.

Back Panel

The rear panel input / output provides the following connections, from left to right and top to bottom:

  • the mouse (PS/2) connection
  • the keyboard (PS2) connection
  • one firewire IEEE 1394a and two USB 2.0 ports
  • one parallel connection
  • one SPDIF-out and a VGA connection
  • one gigabit ethernet lan port and two USB 2.0
  • Line In/Line Out/Mic In audio
  • Wireless LAN led and Antenna connection

Slots

The EQS M56K9-MLF being a Micro-ATX motherboard, cannot offer as many PCI/PCI-E slots as regular ATX motherboards. Be it so, there is one PCI-E x16 for a graphics card, one PCI-E x1 and two more PCI slots for extension cards.

 

VIA VT6307 FireWire Controller

 

ITE IT8712F offering H/W Monitor and Fan Speed Controller




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