The new revision 1.2 of the PA-2012 arrived today, Nov. 10 1997, as promised by FIC. This is the actual production revision, this board is the same as what you can buy in the shops soon.
Now you'll certainly remember my previous review of the pre-production revision 1.1, which couldn't really delight me that much. However, FIC and VIA seem to have done the homework I was asking for and the new revision has been considerably improved. The performance of this board with PCI cards is now even a little bit better than the performance of its predecessor, the PA-2007, and the business application peformance with AGP is even another little bit better. Now the 6x86MX CPU is running fine in this board as well, even at pretty tough SDRAM timings.
What hasn't changed is the strange observation of 3D Winbench results that are higher when using the PCI rather than the AGP card, but the difference is only small. There is still a serious problem with the ATI XPERT cards in case you are using the AGP version. The only driver that works with the ATI AGP card is a special one from FIC, but this driver works only with 4 MB cards and is about 33% slower than the latest performance driver, which runs just wonderful with the PCI card.
I have to admit that I like the board a lot better now. It doesn't seem to be as much of a trouble maker as it seemed when I tested revision 1.1. The performance has been improved, so that it is not slower than the PA-2007 anymore and this is a good reason to buy it. It offers AGP for Socket 7, a strategically most important thing, and the performance of AGP is good enough to go for it. However, don't buy an ATI XPERT AGP card with it unless you are looking for trouble. As soon as this driver issue is sorted out between ATI and FIC, you will be able to take advantage of this card as well.
The PA-2012 is a motherboard in ATX form factor and as you can see from the picture above it has one AGP, four PCI and two ISA slots. There are three DIMM sockets for SDRAM or EDO DIMMs and it support RAM sizes of up to 128 MB DIMMs. The board is just as the PA-2007 equipped with 1 MB level 2 cache. Included with the board is a CD with the new bus master IDE driver, the VIA_VGART.VxD and another VIA patch for the Windows 95 system manager. All these patches are installed and even de-installed (!!) very easily, the installation software is really well made. The PA-2012 does not include the 'linear burst' feature for Cyrix and IBM CPUs, although it is supported by the VIA Apollo VP3 chipset. Supported bus speeds: 55, 60, 66, 75 MHz.
I received the board only 18 h before my departure to the US, so please forgive me that I can only offer you these two benchmarks yet.