The written documentation of the PA-2012 is characteristic of most newer 1stMainboard (FIC manufactures motherboards under the 1stMainboard title) manuals, thorough, detailed, and easy to read.  The PA-2012's user manual documents a simple 6-step installation procedure for the motherboard and provides detailed pictures on how to install and configure every aspect of your new purchase.  The manual even goes as far as to differentiate between the physical differences of a Pentium MMX and a Pentium Classic (as well as a 6x86 & a 6x86MX) in order to eliminate any possible confusion for first time system builders. 

Supporting clock multipliers from a meager 1.5x to 5.5x (for future CPUs) and CPU core voltages from 2.1v for the AMD K6-266/300 up to 3.3v for the true overclocker the PA-2012 keeps future expandability options open to virtually any user.  Support for the 75MHz bus speed on the PA-2012 isn't documented in the manual but is documented on the motherboard itself although officially the VP3 chipset doesn't support bus speeds higher than 66MHz. 
Unfortunately FIC left out the 83.3MHz bus speed setting, and the two-jumper design of the bus speed settings on the 2012 eliminate the possibility of there being any hidden settings corresponding to the 83.3MHz bus speed.   Stability at all overclocked and normal clock speeds with the PA-2012 is spoken for quite well by the 20 mid-size to large electrolytic capacitors scattered around the motherboard.  High concentrations of capacitors exist around the Socket-7 IC as well as the switching voltage regulators which are taken care of by the large heatsinks designed to dissipate the large quantities of heat they produce during normal and overclocked operation.

Performance-wise the PA-2012 can be beat by the best of the best, however considering its tremendous feature set as well as its above average performance in ALL categories the PA-2012 disserves the title of Best Overall Socket-7 Motherboard.  At all possible clock speeds, regardless of which CPU is used the PA-2012 will give you the most bang for your buck, it stays competitive in all situations which is a quality most manufacturers cannot flaunt.  

The Bad

The PA-2012's shortcomings?

  • Only supports AGP 1X Mode

  • No 83.3MHz bus speed support

  • Only 2 ISA Slots

  • Clock Multiplier/Bus Speed Jumpers are located in difficult to access places on the motherboard itself

There isn't much to complain about with the PA-2012, it works flawlessly with most brands of SDRAM in pairs and in triples, so next month when this motherboard is released try to get your hands on one.  


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