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3D Spotlight : Hardware : Powercolor GameBoard DreamCode review


Powercolor GameBoard DreamCode review
Posted by Julio Franco on May 2, 1999

board_shotp.jpg (16324 bytes)Powercolor is a very successful OEM hardware manufacturer based in Taiwan, they have been bringing OEM products to the European and Asian market for a while now but now they are trying to enter to the North American market with the introduction of their GameBoard series of mobos aimed at the budget conscious 3D gamer.

The GameBoard DreamCode comes will all the features you should expect from today's Intel 440BX chipset based motherboards, it supports Pentium III processors as well as all the latest Celerons, it also supports bus speeds ranging from 66 to 133mhz, but.... what makes the DreamCode so special?

It comes with a 16mb RIVA TNT chipset as well as a Yamaha Sensaura 3D sound card built in the board, however, because of that Powercolor considered an AGP slot wouldn't be necessary, this isn't THAT bad since the TNT is still a very fast chip but as a gamer I'm sure you'll always want to have the latest 3D card/chip installed in your system and the only way of installing a new card in the future would be replacing the motherboard which is pretty unlikely.

That's why I consider this motherboard is more oriented to the budget conscious 3D gamer, who really doesn't need the latest thing but good speed in most of the games which the TNT provide. Also the board comes with only 3 PCI and 1 ISA slot, again... with the sound built-in this shouldn't be a problem.

Features and Specs
The board I received wasn't final and didn't come with the Abit Softmenu like system settings menu since it wasn't finished yet according to Powercolor, anyway you won't have to play with jumpers anymore, system settings in the DreamCode are dip-switch based. You should be able to change system settings in the BIOS with retails boards though, a very very nice feature for overclockers.

  • 133/100MHz FSB Pentium(r) II Processor Based ATX Mainboard with AGP Port
  • Using Intel 82440BX two chip AGPset
  • Three 168-pin SDRAM DIMM sockets support up to 768MB. Supports ECC (Error Checking Correction).
  • Built-in Three 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (v2.1 compliant), and One 16-bit ISA slot.
  • On-board Two RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible), One Parallel printer port (SPP/EPP/ECP mode), One FDD port (Supports LS120, 3 mode, 1.2/1.44/2.88MB FDD) and also Provides IrDA port with optional cable for transceiver
  • Supports two independent channels for four IDE devices, and up to PIO mode 4 and Ultra DMA/33, Two PCI bus mastering ATA E-IDE ports
  • ATX form factor, Four layers, 30.5 cm x 18 cm (12" x 7.1")
  • Award PCI BIOS with green, ACPI, APM, plug and play, DMI functions
  • Supports multiple-boot from E-IDE / SCSI /CD-ROM / FDD / LS120 / ZIP, and Year 2000 compliant.
  • Double Stack Back-Panel I/O Connectors includes, PS/2 Mini-DIN mouse & keyboard ports, Two USB ports, Two D-Sub 9-pin male Serial ports, One D-Sub 25-pin female printer port.
  • FCC Class B and CE EMI Regulation Compliant.

The Installation was fairly easy and I didn't make a fresh install or anything, I removed my Abit BH6 and popped the DreamCode instead, of course, now I was using the integrated TNT and the Yamaha sound. I booted up and Windows98 made all the work, I had to put the installation CD that came in the box and that was it !

I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to overclock my Celeron 300A as I could in the Abit mobo but this wasn't the case, I set the dip-switches for 4.5x100 and the system booted without problems at 450mhz, stability hasn't been an issue either, I've got this board running at that speed for about 2 weeks with no problems.

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