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Iwill MPX2 Motherboard review


 

Mother of all boards

The Iwill MPX2 is an overclocker's server-board. 

What the . . . ?

 . . . one more time: the Iwill MPX2 is an overclocker's server-board . . . 

 . . & since you didn't ask because you were laughing so hard: it works:

Summary:  

In physical terms, this large motherboard has a practical, simple, & sensible layout; allowing full use of the 6 PCI-slots for full-length PCI-cards, both 32 & 64-bit. It allows use of full-length AGP-Pro video-accelerators, together with a maximum of up to 3.5Gb of ECC DDR, or 2Gb of unbuffered.

The clear & simple layout, free of onboard dross, has considerable thought given to the basics: cooling & the provision of adequate & good-quality power - both to the board as a whole - with dual-mode PSU-sockets for ATX 2.03 & EPS12V PSU's - & to the CPU's. 

All these above features can be of real value to anyone specifying a workstation or server using AMD CPU's; where Iwill's thoughtful simplicity promotes stability at the heart of even the most heavily-specified system.

However, the MPX2 is noticeably expensive compared to the MPX competition - considering its simplicity: this expense is presumably due to the provision of an unparalleled array of overclocking features in a AMD760 MPX-chipset motherboard.

Because of the dual nature of this dual-CPU motherboard; we're going to ask then try to answer two questions of the MPX2: 

Is the MPX2 a good server-board?

Is it a good overclocker's board?

The problem in judging the MPX2 fairly is that administrators & users of serverboard-based systems have very rigid data-centric criteria for both stability & performance - focussed, in our experience & opinion, on maximising PCI-bandwidth & throughput.

Overclockers, by contrast, are at the best skilled tweakers, at the worst straightforward cheapskates: the crux of the art is turning lead into gold, tortoise to hare, bottom-of-range to turbo deluxe. 

Our - for we are longtime overclockers - classic weakness is failing to focus on where the real performance of a computer-system as a whole lies; the skill there is in analysing a system's data-bottlenecks as they apply to real work.

Frankly, in 2002, the single greatest bottleneck in a high-end PC - as opposed to some game-playing platform - has become identical with that of a server: storage-subsystem & PCI-bandwidth.

So the questions in this burningissues review come down to:

Is the MPX2 a good server-board? . . . & if so,

Is there any point in overclocking it? - & - (cough, ahem) if so; how high?

 

Test & Specifications:

Burningissues decided to test this board some five months ago on catching industry rumour on its likely capabilities: in late May 2002 we sourced & paid for three Revision 1.3 MPX2's with very low serial numbers [59-61].

One [though networked] is specified as a 'workstation' - such as a keen & knowledgeable enthusiast might use - the second is specified [though a standalone machine] as an 'entry-level server' 

Neither system is used for PC games or 3D graphics work; each is required to be an ultra-stable platform for CD-burning; each have two 66MHz PCI-cards in the MPX2's two 64-bit/66MHz slots.

This review is of these two MPX2's, with any strange behaviour checked against the third sample: in the sum of these two specifications we hope to see how well the MPX2 fills two rles & maybe some of the stage between. 

This approach avoids drawing conclusions from a single sample - plus, since we paid for the things, avoids the grovel or carefree cheek typical of freebie-error.

Components "Workstation" "Server"
CPU's 2 x Palomino XP '1700+' 2 x Palomino MP 1.2GHz
DDR 512Mb Samsung unbuffered '2700' 512Mb Samsung unbuffered '2700'
Fansinks 2 x Akasa Silver Mountain with 60>80 fan-adapters 2 x Kanie Hedgehog with 60>80 fan-adapters
Video-card Matrox G400  AGP Matrox G200 AGP [2x]
Sound-card Creative Soundblaster Platinum Live cheapo 'tsunami' C-Media 8738-6
Monitor LG Logix LG172 17" Eizo F77 21"
64-bit PCI [66MHz cards] AHA-3960D 2-channel U3W SCSI HBA & [32-bit] Promise TX2 100 IDE RAID Compaq/Adaptec AHA-3960D & Compaq SmartArray 5302/64 2-channel U3W SCSI RAID
Other 32-bit PCI [33MHz] ND010 Ethernet /Fast Ethernet  
Hard Disks 2 x Maxtor D740X ATA133 7200rpm RAID0 - or 4 x D740X in RAID 1+0 6 x Fujitsu MAN3184MC RAID5; 1 x Fujitsu MAJ336xx [boot]; 2 x Fujitsu MAJ336xx RAID1 - all U3W SCSI 10K rpm
CD-burners [SCSI unless specified] Lite0n 32/10/40 [atapi]; Sony CRX140 2 x Plextor 820T; Plextor 121032S; Sanyo BP4; Yamaha 3200S
CDROM/DVDROM [SCSI unless specified] Plextor TS40i; Toshiba SD M1212 [atapi] Plextor TS40i
Enclosure Codegen 9001 Midi Server case Globalwin 802 & external SCSI tower with redundant PSU's
PSU Enermax 431 ATX 2.03 Enhance 0246 EPS12V/no-name '550W': 650W APC Back-UPS Pro

'workstation' ready to fire up for the first time . . .  . 

copyright Stephen Hoar  and Graham Demaline June 2002 for www.burningissues.net - all rights reserved

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