iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Chaintech 7NJS (NVIDIA nForce2) Mainboard (Zenith series) 

The release of the Apogee series with its nonstandard components and extensive overclocking capabilities was a real breakthrough for Chaintech. The today's board - the first of the new Zenith series - is for those who want to get the highest possible speed, as well as a rich bundle of accessories for such a good sum of money. By the way, there are no Body Theater headphones. 


  • Package of a stylish design with a handle; 

  • Documentation: user manual and poster with brief installation steps - in English; 
  • Cables: 2 Serial ATA, 2 ATA66/100/133 (60 cm long) and FDD - they are covered with yellow cambric to improve ventilation inside the case (bur for the SATA); 
  • CBOX2 panel with 4 USB 2.0 ports, Audio-In/Out, 1 IEEE 1394 and 2 7-segment LEDs which monitor the POST procedure during booting of the system and then a processor's temperature; 

  • Bracket with Rear and Bass/Center connectors; 
  • Bracket with SPDIF-In/Out connectors TosLink; 
  • Optical cable with TosLink connectors and TosLink-miniTosLink adapter; 

  • ACR expansion card with the IEEE 1394 controller; 

  • Trinket with the Zenith logo; 

  • Thermo grease; 
  • 2 CDs containing: 
    • drivers; 
    • user guide; 
    • Norton Internet Security 2002; 
    • Norton Antivirus 2002; 
    • Adobe ActiveShare; 
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader; 
    • Adobe eBook Reader; 
    • ImageMore. 

The layout has the following drawbacks: the audio-ins  and power supply connector are located between the CPU socket and the back panel, the FDD is next to the left edge, IDE connectors are behind the PCI slots. When a video card is installed it's difficult to handle the memory modules in the DIMM slots. It can be difficult to reach some jumpers when the board is already installed. Their functions are shown on the textolite. 

The 2-channel switching voltage regulator incorporates 8 capacitors of 2200 uF and 3 of 1500 uF. 

The following controllers are integrated: 

  • audio controller based on the C-Media CMI8738/PCI-6ch-MX chip supporting 5.1 audio systems and having connectors for front audio inputs/outputs and for SPDIF;  
  • network controller based on the chipset's capabilities and supporting 10BaseT/100BaseTX; 
  • IDE RAID controller based on the Promise PDC20376 chip supporting RAID 0 and 1 on the ATA133 and SATA150 protocols. 

Non-unsoldered connectors: a connector for 2 COM ports (the ports are located on the back panel) - they will probably be provided in a board with an integrated graphics core. 

The system monitoring is supported by the ITE IT8712F-A chip. What is controlled: 

  • processor voltage, AGP bus and memory, +2.5, +3.3, +5 and +-12 V, VBAT; 
  • speed of 2 fans; 
  • temperatures of the processor (a built-in sensor) and the board (a built-in sensor). 

There are 2 connectors for adjustable and 2 for unadjustable connection of fans (one of them is connected to a fan on the heatsink of the chipset's north bridge). 

Brief characteristics of the board: memory slots - 3 DDR SDRAM; expansion slots - AGP/ 5 PCI/ ACR; I/O ports - 2 COM/ LPT/ 2 PS/2/ 6 USB 2.0; dimensions - 305x230 mm. 

Adjustment can be carried out with: 

jumpers and switchesJumper to clear up the CMOS 
Jumpers to fix the FSB frequency100, 133, 166 MHz
Jumper for starting up computer from a PS/2 keyboard 
Jumpers for starting up computer from USB keyboard 
Jumper to enable/disable the audio controller 
BIOS based on the AwardBIOS 6.00PG of PhoenixSetup of memory timings+CAS Latency, T (RAS), T (RCD), T (RP)
Setup of memory frequency+By SPD, Sync, 50%, 60%, 66%, 75%, 80%, 83%, 120%, 125%, 133%, 150%, 166% and 200% of FSB
Setup of AGP bus- 
Setup of PCI bus- 
Changeable scaler of AGP and PCI buses+AGP (PCIx2) = Auto, 50, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 90, 93, 95, 97 and 100 MHz
Manual assignment of interrupts+ 
Changeable FSB frequency+100-200 MHz in 1, 2, 3 and 5 MHz steps
Changeable CPU multiplier- 
Changeable core voltage+1.4-2.15 V in 0.025V steps up to 1.85 V and then in 0.05 V steps
Changeable memory voltage+2.7-3.2 V in 0.1V steps
Changeable chipset voltage- 
Changeable AGP bus voltage+Default, 1.6-2.0 V in 0.1V steps

We used the latest available version of the BIOS of 01.11.2002. 

An excellent set of components, the best among modern boards, is supplemented with a wide range of adjustable parameters and overclocking settings; the functions are superb. This is one of the best boards for Socket A. 

Test results: 


Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com

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