Date Joined: 09/04/05
Pros: Clean design for its price. Works fine with older thicker 2.5" drives. Lever arm is fragile but expected for the price, so I'm not docking it points for that.
Cons: Ejector mechanism lever arm pushes above the sata connector instead of the far side. The arm completely fails for thin drives (e.g. 6.8mm height)... it just swipes over the top of the drive and thus cannot eject it.
Overall Review: I really like the design except for the lever-arm problem. Unfortunately the lever-arm problem makes the unit virtually unusable, because thin drives are more the standard height now.
Pros: The power supply does appear to work.
Cons: The power supply appears to have a mini-itx form factor, not a micro-atx form factor.
Pros: The board generally worked well with linux and the BSDs, except for the SATA ports in AHCI mode.
Cons: The AHCI chipset probes as Generation-2 only, and connects to 6GBit/sec SATA-III devices at only 3GBits/sec. This is the actual chip registers that are indicating this and has nothing whatsoever to do with any software drivers. What is weird is that this is the 880G chipset w/presumably the SB850 southbridge, which DOES support 6GBit/sec SATA ports because I have the same combo on my Gigabyte 880GMA-UD2H mobo and it probes the same devices at 6GBits/sec speeds.
My presumption is that the Zotac BIOS has very old chipset firmware in it and/or the chipsets have very old firmware, or the BIOS is doing something stupid and blowing up the link configuration causing the chipsets to indicate only 3GBit/sec operation. Or they are lying outright. The information on the site is extremely poor.
The BIOS update requires a msdos floppy, so old. Updating my BIOS didn't solve the problem.
Boot order selection doesn't work very well w/ regards to having a USB stick override the normal HDs
Overall Review: I see a lot of poor reviews, and mine is poor too in that the board is advertised as having 6 GBit/s SATA ports when it doesn't. The BIOS also has poor usb keyboard emulation and poor memory & cpu clocking controls, and the smart fan doesn't quite feel right. But insofar as operating as a small server the lack of 6GBit/s SATA support is the only showstopper.
Pros: The mobo is packed with all sorts of goodies, I had no problems slotting in a Phenom x 6. All the basics seem to work.
Cons: The BIOS is a bit flaky and clearly needs some work, particularly when it comes to USB keyboards run through KVM switches. Getting into setup is almost impossible for example. The USB keyboard really needs to be directly connected to get reasonable responsiveness.
The AMD chipsets are also not nearly as well rounded as their Intel counterparts. It took a bit of OS hacking to get AHCI to work and I am still unable to get E-SATA to work properly. Hot-swap does not work at all. The AHCI firmware on-chip has all sorts of issues with probing. The BIOS also fails to properly set the AHCI port flags (for example, the E-Sata port is not flagged as being an external port).
HD boot selection is horrid. You cannot, for example, simply ask the BIOS to boot from USB first. If you unplug the usb device through a reboot cycle the BIOS forgets about it and reverts to SATA-first booting.
The BIOS does not make it clear whether it is properly initializing ECC or not when ECC sticks are
Overall Review: Hopefully mobo makers and AMD will make improvements as time goes by. The newer AMD chipsets are a huge leap in performance over the older ones but AMD is still behind the times. For example, the AHCI firmware does not support FIS-based switching, making the 6GBit links worthless (they might as well be 3GBit links without FIS-based switching!).
I'm giving it 4-stars in an AMD-relative grading. Relative to Intel AMD still has a ways to go on getting their mobo chipsets in proper working order. For the price, though, it is very hard to beat AMD despite the problems.
Pros: Plenty of space inside the case, large slow, quiet case fan. The two temperature sensors were surprisingly useful. The power supply seems capable.
Cons: The case is pretty flimsy. Thin Aluminum case and cover, with minimal reinforcement. It kinda feels like it will just fall apart. Power supply wiring badly designed (not enough SATA power connectors, for example), no wire routing inside the case so cables and wires are kinda just flung all over the place. The pull-out motherboard isn't too hot either.
Overall Review: Generally speaking the case was what I expected for its price. It will not be winning any rewards but it is serviceable if you don't care how things look.