ASUS A7A266 Motherboard Review
March 1, 2002
GF City Computers Price:
This is one Mother of a Board! What more could you ask for from ASUS? This motherboard has flexibility written all over it. If you want to save a few buck go with a Duron processor and PC-133. Or if you want to go all out, then add a Thunderbird and DDR. I went for the T-bird/DDR combo. But the choice is up to you. Lets have a look!
- Socket A for AMD Duron/Thunderbird
- Ali-MAGIC-1 Chip-set w/DDR support
- PC2100/PC1600 DDR and PC133 SDR support
- 3 SDR Slots and 2 DDR Slots
- 5 PCI Slots
- AGP Pro Slot 4x/2x/1x support
- 1 AMR (Why???)
- Floppy, USB, Serial and Parallel Connectors
- Optional on-board audio (Board for this review DOES NOT)
- ATX form factor
I give this motherboard by ASUS an A+! I keep finding more and more things I like about it! I have found that I need to get a new video card to use with this board and processor. As my Voodoo 3 2000 just doesn't cut it anymore! But it's about time for an upgrade anyway. About 150Mhz on the fsb was all I could push it. My temperatures were getting a little high so I decided to back it off. This is only temporary until I can get some better cooling for my cpu! Here is what I have in my Antec SX-830 case as of 7/1/01.
- ASUS A7A266 motherboard
- 1.2 Ghz w/266fsb AMD cpu
- Thermaltake Volcano 2 cpu cooler
- 128 MB Mushkin PC2100 DDR memory
- Voodoo 3 2000 Video card
- 30 GB ATA/100 Western Digital Hard disk
- Iomega 8x4x32x CD-RW
- Linksys NIC
- Xwave Sound card
Since the first review I have added a larger heat-sink on the ALiMaGiK 1 chip-set and put a 42mm fan on my video card chip-set. I added Thermaltakes memory cooling kit to my DDR and video card ram. There are also are four 80mm fans (2in/2out) blowing around in my case.
This motherboard has been stable from day one! When over-clocking it loaded and ran everything without a problem. My only problem was heat! I did try running it with the case door off and pointing some household fans at it. It helped some, but I don't like running an unfiltered case! I have cats and lots of cat hair! With my memory@2-2-2 and my Video card over-clocked to 150Mhz. I ran a 1890 on 3DMark2001 with my cpu at 1200Mhz. Not too bad compared to other similar computer systems. I am currently running it with the fsb at 145Mhz, which my cpu posts at 1313Mhz. I have had it set up and running for 3 days straight now and my cpu temps at full load are around 134F, so says the ASUS Probe. This is motherboard monitoring software that is included with the motherboard (w/cpu software cooling). My score on 3DMark2001 with my cpu at 1313Mhz was a 2302! I had the fsb at 150Mhz for a little while, but a cpu temp of 148F with almost no load was just too much for me. So I decided to put the fsb back at 145Mhz. It seemed to be happy there! I didn't run a benchmark with the fsb at 150Mhz for fear of overheating my cpu. As soon as I address my cooling problems and unlock the multiplier on my cpu I will push it farther! With a BIOS update to v.1004 you can step the fsb in 1Mhz increments, a great feature! Also, the cd that comes with the motherboard has some useful software on it like: DirectX8 drivers, PC-Clillin 2000, ADOBE Acrobat reader, and other ASUS utilities. Well, all in all this is a great motherboard!
The installation of this motherboard was straightforward. It comes packaged with great documentation and software bundle. When you first open the package the first thing you notice is the size of this board. It is by far the largest board I have used. Processor installation was very easy and there is nothing to get in the way of the heat sink. I used a AMD 1.2Ghz w/266fsb T-bird and a Thermaltake Volcano II CPU cooler. Putting it in the case was a snap! I have an Antec SX-830 case that has lots of room. Everything else from the cables to the cards went in with no problems.
Once installed it looked great! Now, It's time to fire it up! Not one problem here! I ran it with PC-133 SDR that I had and it was really quick. Then I went out and picked up some PC2100 DDR and WOW, this thing has wings! Well it could just be me coming from an overclocked P3-500Mhz. I loaded Windows and everything went OK. But when it came time to shutdown the thing would not shut off. It just kept rebooting into windows and the power switch would not work. I had to unplug it from the wall to get it to shut off. An update of the BIOS to v.1004 solved this problem. The BIOS update also added the ability to step the front side bus in 1Mhz intervals. Other than that it was a very easy install.
This motherboard is great, I think it's a keeper! I have ran this thing hard and it just keeps on giving. I am just now starting to mess with the front side bus settings. I had the front side bus at 140Mhz and running fine. I am planning on unlocking the multiplier on this chip as soon as I get a chance. More to follow on that! Great motherboard for the price. With a lot of options for upgrades.
- DDR support
- Able to adjust the FSB by 1Mhz (w/BIOS update)
ATX power connector is too close to one of the PC-133 slots if it has memory in it.
(not a problem if using DDR or only 2 sticks of PC-133!) See pic below!