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Chaintech's Zenith 9CJS motherboard

Whatever will they bundle next?

ModelZenith 9CJS
Price (street)US$267

SINCE THE Zenith 9EJS1 first wowed me with its performance, peripherals, and bundled extras, I've been eagerly anticipating Chaintech's next wave of high-end, enthusiast-oriented motherboards. In the relatively short time since the Zenith 9EJS1 was released, new south bridge chips like Intel's ICH5R have made extra USB ports, Serial ATA support, and RAID available to all. The majority of mobo makers have become hip to the bundle game, too. Extras like rounded IDE cables used to be a novelty, but now they're almost passe. And let's not forget that the performance difference between motherboards based on the same core-logic chipset continues to be largely negligible.

Chaintech's Zenith 9EJS1 was able to distance itself from the rest of the 845PE-based competition thanks to its complete complement of peripherals and its imaginative bundle. Now that nearly everybody is stacking boards with peripherals and bundled extras, Chaintech's new Canterwood-based Zenith 9CJS must raise the bar again. To stay ahead of the pack, the 9CJS must set a new standard for integrated peripherals, bundled extras, and it must continue to offer competitive performance—a tall order indeed.

To combat its high-end, enthusiast-oriented competition, Chaintech armed the Zenith 9CJS with VIA's 7.1-channel Envy24PT audio controller, a 5.25" drive bay port panel/card reader/remote control, and support for overclocked front-side bus speeds up to 1600MHz. Can this board and its slick package of extra goodies set the standard for Canterwood-based motherboards? We'll find out.

The specs
Like most high-end motherboards, the Zenith 9CJS is packed with features. Check it out:

CPU supportSocket 478-based Intel Pentium 4 processors
Form factorATX
ChipsetIntel "Canterwood" 875P
North bridgeIntel 875P
South bridgeIntel ICH5R
InterconnectIntel Accelerated Hub (266MB/sec)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1, 4X/8X AGP (1.5V only)
AMR/CNR slotsNone
Memory4 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 4GB of DDR400/333/266 SDRAM with ECC
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/100
Serial ATA2 channels Serial ATA 150 via ICH5R south bridge
RAIDSerial ATA RAID 0 support via ICH5R south bridge
Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports
USB4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via CBOX drive bay insert
Firewire3 ports IEEE 1394 Firewire via VIA VT6306 Firewire controller
Audio8-channel audio via Envy24PT/VT1616 codec
analog front, surround, rear, and center outputs
front-mounted CBOX  mic and headphone ports
Ethernet10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel CSA GbE controller
10/100 Fast Ethernet via Realtek RTL8101L
Bus speedsFSB: 200-400MHz in 1MHz increments
DRAM: 266, 333, and 400MHz
Bus dividersNone
VoltagesCPU: 1.5375-1.6750 in 0.025V increments
DRAM: default, +0.1, 0.2, 0.3V
AGP: default, +0.1, 0.2, 0.3V
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

When it comes to features, the Zenith 9CJS gets a check mark next to all the important boxes. There's no integrated video, which is to be expected from a high-end offering, but on-board audio, Serial ATA, RAID, Firewire, and dual Ethernet ports all make appearances. I'll be going over each of the 9CJS's integrated peripherals in detail in a moment. First, let's check out the layout of the board itself.