Tyan's Tomcat i7230A S5160 comes packed with dual PCI Express slots, Pentium D support, and capabilities for up to 8GB of DDR2. In addition, the S5160 motherboard had possessed competitive performance in the set of motherboards we had used -- the consumer Abit AW8 and the previous Tyan entry-level server solution i7221A S5151; and in many of the instances the i7230A S5160 had taken first place. However, it is important to note that due to the Intel E2730 limitations the primary PCI Express slot is limited to x8 transfer speeds, where as the Abit AW8 was able to utilize the full PCI-E x16 lanes thus the i955X product had taken a significant lead in the various graphical benchmarks. It is also crucial to remember that the i7221A was limited when it came to PCI graphics and DDR memory. Other factors to consider is the EM64T and two physical cores when running the Pentium D 820 over the Pentium 4 530 on the motherboard. On the topic of GNU/Linux support and compatibility, we are pleased to say again that this Tyan board performed quite remarkably under Linux with no apparent signs of problems except for detection under LM_Sensors and its hardware sensors. One of the possible ASIC additions we would have enjoyed seeing on the i7230A is an IEEE-1394 controller, for those administrators using Firewire enclosures to perform system backups or even digital video transfers. The inclusion of a standard USB port on the lower portion of the motherboard is certainly enticing for those running the machine in an open-air environment or simply for use with internal case peripherals (i.e. memory card readers); rather than running an USB extension cable to the rear of the chassis. One of the onboard items Tyan engineers had unfortunately removed from the design is a port 80 code display LED, which is quite useful for diagnostic purposes. The inclusion of the XGI Z7 (XG 20) integrated graphics with 16MB of video memory is certainly enticing for users who will not be executing demanding 3D graphics, but beyond that the possibilities are diminished due to the present status of XGI Technology's Linux display drivers. When it came directly to the performance of the Copper River and Mukilteo Chipsets, the results were truly neck-and-neck with the differences being quite diminutive. Although if you are running older hardware it may not be logical to make the jump up to the E7230 from the E7221, if you are looking for dual-core, DDR2, and PCI Express support, the E7230 would be the choice. When it comes down to a Pentium LGA-775 motherboard for a workstation or entry-level server, the Tomcat i7230A S5160 should definitely prove to be a viable performer in most environments, and yet again Tyan takes home another recommendation from Phoronix. However, the S5160 is not designed to meet everyone's needs as gamers and some enthusiasts will have better luck looking elsewhere if they are into gaming with PCI Express x16 or any overclocking/tweaking. As for the price of such a luxurious motherboard, we have found the S5160G2NR retailing anywhere between $200-250 USD, and for being a Tyan server motherboard it is quite a conservative price. For those more interested in PCI-X slot over PCI Express, the Tyan Tomcat i7230B S5161G3NR offers these abilities.
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Phoronix Product Rating: 8 / 10