FicVA503+ Golden Guide

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This is a useful guide to the FIC-Va503+ motherboard from FIC Inc. In fact, this is the last version of this guide since I have purchased a new motherboard and cpu and will never update this guide again. It's time to move on but I've had lots of fun with my Va503+, so stick to it as long as you can! :) (2001-Apr-28)

Hardware Advice

Here's a short list of the hardware that I know successfully have been tested on FIC-VA503+

GFX Cards:

  • ASUS V7100 GeForce2MX AGP 32MB (SDRAM)
  • Diamond Viper 550 AGP 16MB
  • S3 Virge VX/DX PCI 4MB
  • Diamond Speedstar A70 AGP 8MB
  • Voodoo2 PCI 8MB
  • ASUS 3400 TNT AGP 16MB (Without TVOut/IN)
  • Absolute Outragous 3D Graphics Ultra TNT2


  • SoundBlaster 16 ISA
  • SoundBlaster AWE 64 ISA
  • Soundblaster 64 PCI
  • SoundBlaster Live 1024 Value PCI

Some general hardware tips:

  • Do not run the memory bus faster than 100Mhz, since it in most cases makes the computer unstable, even if the memory is for example PC-133, do not run it at that speed.
  • The Asus 3400 is known to be buggy with TVOut/IN, so finding one without is recommended...
  • In it's original state, the bios only supports harddrives up to 32 GB, but there's an update at the fic homepage.
  • When using EDO or FP-memory the bus could be set to 100 MHz, the memory will still run at 66 MHz.

Installing Windows (Win9x & ME)

Windows installation procedure for this motherboard:

1. Get the latest Via 4-in-1 driver from
2. Check bios settings, see bottom of this textfile.
3. Install your windows release, Win9x or WinME
4. Install the "Via 4-in-1" patch you downloadad in point 1.
5. Install drivers for other hardware
6. Install your software, applications, games, whatever!
7. Enjoy your hopefully working setup!

Installing Windows (Win2k)

1. Get the latest Via 4-in-1 driver from
2. Get the latest bios, check downloads section at the bottom of this file.
3. Install win2k normal, do not install any new drivers until later.
4. Install the "Via 4-in-1" patch you downloadad in point 1.
5. Install the latest win2k service pack. (Hint:
6. Install the "Via 4-in-1" again. (Files could have been overwritten)
7. Install the Via-AGP-Hotfix (Hint:
8. Install your drivers.
9. Enjoy your hopefully working setup!

The Crackeling Sound Card Problem

This was ripped straightly from the

The Problem
Sound playback on computers using both a VIA chipset and a nVidia graphic card often gets distorted if there is a heavy amout of graphic processing at the same time. Both sound playback and the graphic display works fine if used alone, though. Changing the drivers or BIOS for the chipset, the graphic chip or the soundcard does not help.

The Cause
The PCI specification was not designed focussing on devices requiring a very tight timing over a long time like soundcards: Every PCI device has a minimum slice of time in which it can transfer a block of data until another PCI device requiring the bus can get control. This time minimum time slice is determined by the PCI latency timer value given in the PCI confuguration register of the device.

Increasing the latency timer value allows a device to transfer a larger block of data before the bus needs to set up for transfer to or from another device, thus speeding up the transfer at the cost of a less fluent multitasking behaviour. Soundcards (no matter if ISA or PCI) usually have very few buffers for storing data from the bus before playback, thus they are very sensible if new data cannot be read in time and often produce more or less clicks or distortion in the sound output. On the other hand, devices like the graphic card or busmaster disk controllers transfer masses of data through the bus and benefit from transferring data blocks as large as possible.

Most problematic are the combination of a chipset using a high latency value default in its CPU-to-PCI bridge (like VIA MVP3), a soundcard playing back several memory channels through the PCI bus (like the SB Live!) instead of using local memory buffers and fast graphic chips which can lock the bus for a long time (like the nVidia Geforce).

The Solution
Setting the CPU-to-PCI bridge latency timer to 0 often helps. However, this is not available in most BIOSes or drivers, thus a small tool is required for it.

Check the download section at the bottom of this file for the fix.

Bios Settings

PCI/IRQ Settings:

Activate IRQ By:     Level     ; Do NOT Choose Edge, windows wont start.
Assign IRQ To VGA:   Yes       ; Solves problems with gfx-card.

Upgrading Bios

You might be annoyed by the fact that there is no new bios for your pcb1.0 or 1.1a/b, well actually there is no problem here, the latest pcb1.2 bios works for the old pcb's too!

When this was written, the latest bios was JE4333. JE4333 works perfectly with my pcb1.1a motherboard and if you are going to install win2k as me, you better go download that bios. I think it enables you to have bigger harddrives aswell, so what are you waiting for?

Check the download section of this file to find the bios.

Useful FIC-Va503+ Links And files

Latest bios
Crackling Sound Fix

Credits & Greetings

Thanks to the following people:

  • Bengt Johannesson
  • Patrik Alexandersson
  • Anders Noren
  • Dieter Ost