Home » Opinions » Motherboard Roundup » Intel - Chaintech Zenith 9CJS

Intel - Chaintech Zenith 9CJS

You may or may not be familiar with Chaintech, but either which way, we urge you to take a closer look at the Zenith 9CJS as it’s one of the most feature packed motherboards around. The retail box was the biggest we have ever seen for a motherboard and it has more accessories than Louis Vuitton.

Lets start with the more basic aspects of the 9CJS which is based on the Intel 875P chipset which is Intel’s current top of the range consumer solution. Chaintech has of course used the ICH5R with integrated S-ATA Raid. You’ll also find an Intel CSA Ethernet controller that adds Gigabit LAN to the board as well as a Realtek 10/100Mbit Ethernet controller as an added bonus. You get Firewire, although Chaintech has fitted this to a proprietary CMR (Chaintech Media Riser) card that also adds optical S/PDIF output as well as three audio jacks for the 7.1-channel sound. Yes, you did read that correctly, the 9CJS features a high-end VIA Envy 24PT 7.1-channel hardware audio controller.
The Envy 24PT supports 24bit, 96 kHz playback and recording, which is studio quality sound. Not bad for integrated audio on a motherboard.

As if this wasn’t enough, you also get a 5.25in front panel box which Chaintech referrers to as the Cbox3. This consists of two slots for flash memory which supports Compact Flash type I/II as well as MicroDrives, Memory stick, Secure Digital, Multi Media Card and Smart Media. That covers pretty much every flash memory format apart from XD cards. It also features two USB 2.0 ports, a single Firewire port, a headphone and mic socket, a Post80 Debug LED and an infrared port for the supplied remote control. As if that wasn’t enough, you also get three coloured fascias for it in silver, beige and black. The supplied remote control can be used as a mouse and it also has pre-programmed buttons for quick access to certain applications such as WinDVD.

The supplied manual is first class and features everything you need to know about setting the board up and configuring the BIOS. Installation and use of the supplied drivers and software is also well covered. Chaintech has also supplied a quick setup sheet that covers the basic features of the motherboard like how to install it, how the Cbox3 works and all the buttons on the remote control.

The software bundle consists of InterVideo WinCinema, Norton Antivirus 2003, Internet Security 2003 and Adobe Active Share which is a reasonable bundle. InterVideo WinCinema consists of WinDVD and WinRip.

There are no extra brackets in the box as all the extra ports are either on the CMR riser or the Cbox3. A full set of round IDE and floppy cables is supplied as well as two S-ATA cables with power adaptors. An optical digital cable is also bundled that can either be connected to an amplifier or a CD/MD player with a small adapter. Finally a Chaintech branded screwdriver is also included in the box, but it’s more of a gimmick than a real tool.

The performance was first rate, although it was not the fastest board on test as both MSI and QDI offered similar or better performance. This is unlikely to be an issue though, as if you’re intending to buy this board you are looking for something out of the ordinary, which is just what Chaintech has on offer here. Little things like the gold plated I/O connectors tell you that this is a special board that offers just that little bit more.

We didn’t expect the 9CJS to be a cheap motherboard and at over £170 we weren’t wrong, but it is really worth the money when you take into consideration the amount of useful extras thrown in.

Overall this is a great motherboard with some really exciting features that makes it stand out from the crowd and we would recommend anyone that can afford it to get one.

Verdict

Wow, this is an amazing board with some of the most innovative and useful features we have ever seen. Chaintech has really got something special here, although you might have to sell all your other PC components to afford one. A true connoisseur’s motherboard if there is such a thing.

{table:chaintechintel}

comments powered by Disqus