Thanks to Award's built-in support for jumperless CPU setups, we find the FSB options under Frequency/Voltage Control in the BIOS. FSB settings include 100 / 102 / 104 / 106 / 107 / 109 / 110 / 111 / 112 / 133, although our experience with the Athlon/Duron's EV6 bus is that 110 MHz is the maximum FSB you can realistically expect to achieve and maintain stability. While a few have pushed further, it is relatively rare. Fortunately there are a number of settings between 100 and 110 MHz, allowing you to tweak the most out of the FSB. Twelve 1500uF capacitors make sure that the CPU gets enough power at all times.
The real way to overclock the Thunderbird/Duron is through multiplier adjustments since everything on the motherboard remains within spec. Although AMD has "laser locked" the multiplier on all Socket-A CPU's, Tom's Hardware Guide has shown the world how to get around the multiplier lock with the right motherboard. While FIC does not officially support multiplier adjustments of Socket-A CPU's, it is possible on the AZ-11. However, it requires quite a bit of work and is definitely much harder than the DIP switches of the ASUS A7V or the SoftMenu III setting of the ABIT KT7. We'll have a complete Socket-A overclocking guide in the near future and we'll cover the required modifications to the AZ-11 at that time. We highly recommend going with a motherboard that has built-in support for this feature if you want to overclock, especially since FIC could remove the necessary components at any time with a revision of the board
Although the FIC manual claims support for Vcore adjustments after setting the "Magic Tuner" jumper, the function did not work on our evaluation sample. It may be enabled with future BIOS revisions, although none were available at the time of publication.
The VIA 686A Super South Bridge helps reduce costs by integrating a number of features into a single chip. The VIA 686A actually adds a number of features, including support for 4 USB ports, integrated hardware monitoring, and an AMR interface. Two of those USB ports are available via the standard ATX I/O panel, while the other two are only available with an optional cable that can run to the front or back of your case.
The Sigmatel STAC9744T AC97 CODEC provides host-based audio support, but anyone that cares about their PC's sound will want to disable the onboard sound in favor of a true hardware-based solution. Interestingly, the AZ-11 does not have provisions for an integrated game port like most motherboards with integrated sound.
FIC has begun bundling what they like to call NOVUS II, a combination of hardware and software that makes their boards stand out from the crowd a bit. NOVUS II consists of LogoGenie, BIOS Guardian, Easy Key, Overclock Partner, Clockometer, and Audio Alert II. BIOS Guardian has been seen before on the FIC KA-11 and is designed to protect the BIOS from virus attacks. Easy Key was also found on the KA-11 and provides a set of hot keys to jump to specific areas of the BIOS. Finally Overclock Partner is also not new to the market and simply allows you to revert to default settings by holding down insert after a failed overclocking attempt.
However, Logo Genie, Clockometer, and Audio Alert II are new. Logo Genie allows the user to put a 640x464x16 image on screen in place of the standard Award BIOS POST screen. You can still see the original POST screen by hitting tab. While this isn't all that useful to most AnandTech readers, OEM's love this kind of stuff because it allows them to customize their systems that much more. Clockometer is a program similar to SoftFSB and allows you to change FSB speeds from within Windows 98. It offers no additional features over using the BIOS to adjust the FSB speed, but it does make it somewhat easier for those afraid of playing around in the BIOS.
The only truly new feature is Audio Alert II, something we briefly mentioned in our Computex Day 2 Coverage. Instead of getting POST beep codes from your PC speaker, an actual voice comes through your external speakers (via the onboard sound) to let you know that memory, CPU, or video has not been detected after power on. Once again, not extremely useful if you know your beep codes already, but it'll save you a trip to your manual if you don't. While Audio Alert II is an interesting idea, it would be a lot more useful if it were able to inform you of more than just a missing CPU, memory, or video card.
Beyond the NOVUS II utilities, FIC also includes Norton Anti-Virus, Norton Ghost, and Norton Virtual Drive. We're not sure what Symantec has done, but it seems every motherboard manufacturer is bundling the same products these days. The typical FIC manual ships with the AZ-11, which means that it lacks details on installing a motherboard, but is otherwise pretty good for the experienced user, and includes information on all connector pin outs as well as the various BIOS settings.