Reintroducing The M7MIA
When I lain eyes on a DDR board, with the AMD 761 Northbridge AND a RAID controller, I seriously though I died and went to Socket 462 heaven. "I thought INSTANT 10 SCORE! Next board, please!"
Well, it turns out that it isn't all heaven. Not that the board was hell at all. It was actually quite good. It just lacked what I've come to expect from boards today in tweak ability. My overclocking habits perhaps have clouded my judgment, but this is a competitive market and everyone else's motherboards feature so many ways to tweak you CPU that it's almost come to be expected.
Somehow, I just couldn't bring myself to not love the board. Maybe I was damned! Crap, I don't know!!!! I'm so tormented!
Let me start from the beginning.
In the beginning Biostar said, "Let there be DDR". And thus brought forth thou Biostar M7MIA, but without the RAID controller... and quite a few other things it turns out.
The original M7MIA had one goal in the Socket 462 market: To make available a rock solid (thanks to the AMD 761 Northbridge) DDR motherboard for under $150 (currently, the price of the original M7MIA has dropped to under $120) that was still good quality. If your expectations were higher than this, you were in for a major disappointment.
The board featured onboard sound and one ISA slots (rare), an AGP Pro slot (becoming more common), ATA100 thanks to the VIA686B Southbridge (quite common), and accommodation for two DDR DIMMs, up to 512MB each.
In the BIOS, selecting front side bus speeds from 100 MHz on up to 150 MHz can allow you to do some overclocking on this board, but in reality, most any board today will let you do this. The Biostar M7MIA has the added feature of also telling you what your FSB selection does to your PCI bus speed. This is good in case you have an inherit inability to divide by 3 or 4.
Much to my amazement, I have run the M7MIA rock solid stable at 150 MHz FSB with several CPUs that could not do this high of bus on other boards, and this is despite the fact that Biostar's test results for overclockability do not exceed 140 MHz. Some people think stable is a relative term, but I feel it's Boolean. It's either stable or not. And this is stable. Blame the AMD 761 Northbridge, or possibly a top quality clock generator, or even three phase bus controllers, as opposed to two... but the fact remains that this is a hard foundation to shake.
On the bad side of things, I have to point out that the original M7MIA had no way to change the multiplier, no VIO selection, only two fan headers, a HUGE form factor and the ATX power connector was in a wacky ass place on the board (not just behind the socket, but behind the socket and down an inch!).
We want to overclock, we want to monitor more than two fans, we don't want to drape our ATX power connector over the top of our CPU fan and we want to be able to put a drive in the bottom 5 ¼ bay of our mid tower case without knocking a capacitor off the board.
Actually, truth be told, in anything larger than an Enlight 7237 the board fits fine and there are two good things to come out of the M7MIA's large foot print. One: there's enough room to place tall components (like the 1500mF capacitors located near the socket) far enough away from the socket to allow large heatsinks to be mounted. Second: the DIMM slots are far enough away from the AGP slot that there is no way for one's video card to prevent the ejection and reinstallation of their RAM.
>> Introducting The M7MIA RAID