Due in no small part to the integrated chipset, the K7S5A is designed somewhat more spaciously, and is noticeably less crowded than other boards. In fact, the sleek black PCB’s layout is more thoughtful than what we’re used to, as it seems as though real emphasis was placed upon making the board easy to work with.
Fig 1. DDR and SDR memory slots. Notice the blue DDR slots are located closer to the chipset, with the black SDR slots further away. The board is designed this way for electrical reasons.
The most noticeable feature is the board’s support for both SDR and DDR SDRAM. ECS has provided four memory banks, two 168-pin SDR banks, and two 184-pin DDR banks. Users have the choice of using either DDR or SDR memory. Of course, if building from scratch, DDR is the faster option, however those working on an upgrade can stick with their PC100/PC133 for just a bit longer. Each DIMM slot can accommodate DIMMs up to 512 MB in size, although DDR and SDR memory cannot be used at the same time. Thus the board supports either 1 GB of PC133 SDRAM, or 1 GB of DDR SDRAM, but not at the same time.
Fig 2. The board's PCI slots. Notice the IDE and FDD connectors placed curteously between slots in order to allow for larger PCI cards.
The board sports five PCI slots, and a single AGP and AMR slot. As usual, we’d rather the AMR slot be removed in lieu of another PCI slot, or perhaps even an ISA slot. As mentioned above, the layout is very clean, as all connectors have been placed courteously between slots so as not to interfere with larger PCI cards.
Fig 3. Optional on-board 100Mbit networking, which uses a Realtek chipset.
The K7S5A also includes optional on-board 100Base-TX networking capability, which is provided for by the SiS735 chipset. This is a feature we really enjoy, and something we’re glad to see cropping up on more and more Athlon boards. Every single computer I own has a cheap PCI network card. Having this on-board makes things much easier, and is a great way to save a few dollars. Frankly we’d like to see this become as commonplace as on-board AC’97 audio.
The rest of the board’s features are typical. On-board AC’97 audio is included with CD input connectors, as well as WOL and IR headers.