ASUS A7V8X Motherboard Review

Admin - 2007-02-21 19:53:27 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: November 17, 2002
GF City Computers
Price: $133 USD

Introduction:





A few months ago I bought a new Abit KX7-333R motherboard and it was one of the best boards out. However like always they come out with better technology the very next month such as the VIA KT400 chipset and the Serial ATA technology. Such feature can be found on the motherboard that I'm reviewing today, the Asus A7F8X. The Asus A7V8X motherboard can be bought choc full of features such as: Serial ATA, (4) USB 2.0 ports, RAID, AGP 8x, IEEE 1394 (Firewire), Gigabit LAN Port, DDR400, and Asus Post Reporter. When I requested this board from KnowledgeMicro they only had the "crippled" version of this motherboard in stock. What I mean by crippled is that some of the optional features were not found on my board. For example, my board did not have Serial ATA and Firewire. Cripple, really isn't a very good word since this board still has plenty of other very nice features. So let's find out what those features are!

Features

  • DDR400 Support
  • Gigabit LAN Ready
  • Serial ATA (optional)
  • S/PDIF in/out Interface
  • ASUS Post Reporter
  • IEEE 1394 (optional)
  • USB 2.0 Ready
  • ASUS Q-Fan



    What you get

  • Asus A7V8X Motherboard
  • (2) IDE Cables
  • Floppy Cable
  • Game & Firewire Redirect Ports
  • Motherboard Faceplate
  • Thick User Manual
  • Quick start user manual
  • CD -Drivers & Utilities




    Specifications:



    Motherboard Specifications
    CPU Socket Socket A for Athlon XP/ Athlon/ Duron up to 2.4GHz+
    Thoroughbred core CPU ready
    Chipset                                         North Bridge: VIA KT400                                          South Bridge: VIA VT8235
    FSB 266/200 MHz
    Memory Support 3 x DDR PC3200/PC2700/PC2100/PC1600
    Multiplier Options up to 22.5x in 0.5x steppings
    Bus Speed Options up to 227 MHz in 1 MHz steppings
    Voltages 1.75 - 2.0 in 0.025v increments
    Form Factor ATX Form Factor
    12" x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)
    Expansion Slots 6 x PCI, 1 x AGP, 1 x Wireless card slot
    AGP Support 8x AGP
    USB/Firewire Support 4x Standard USB 2.0, 2 x 1394 (Firewire) ports (optional)
    Integrated Components Realtek 6-channel CODEC & S/PDIF in/out interface
    Bios Award BIOS
    Onboard IDE 2 x ATA100 EIDE 2 x Serial ATA (optional)

    Closer Look:





    There're things I liked and disliked about the layout of this motherboard. The power plug on the board is in a very bad location for a number of reasons. For one, if you have a mid tower case it would be very hard to reach the power plug since it will be under your hard drive or floppy drive bay. Another reason why I don't like the power plug at this location is because you can't easily hide the wire going to the plug from the power supply. This really isn't a problem if you don't have a window in your case, but if you do have a window it does pose a problem. The Serial ATA is in an awkward position on its side. This makes it harder to align your IDE cable plug up with the pins on the motherboard. If the Serial ATA was faced upward like the Primary and Secondary IDE plugs it would make it much easier to plug IDE cables in. Even though my motherboard doesn't have the Serial ATA feature, I can still felt the need to point out that problem.

    Enough with the bad, lets talk about the good! I absolutely love the layout of the CPU socket! There aren't any big capacitors in the way to delay heatsink installations, and no power supply in the way of your screwdriver. All of the other motherboards I have owned, had the CPU socket turned 90° to the left (from the picture). This has caused me many headaches and problems because when you go to install the clip on your heatsink the power supply would be in the way of your screwdriver which makes it very hard to latch down the clip on the heatsink. So, I had to remove my motherboard completely from my system in order to install some heatsinks. I'm glad I won't be having to do that with this motherboard. From this point on when I buy a motherboard the CPU socket layout will definitely play a major role in my purchase.



    Beside the AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) slot you will notice a red LED. If you install a video card that isn't 1.5v, such as a 3.3v video card, this red LED will illuminate and your computer will NOT turn on. This feature will protect your motherboard & video card from being burnt up by not allowing the computer to turn on. If you do install a 1.5v video card the red LED will not illuminate and you will be able to turn your computer on.

    There is also a retaining clip around the AGP slot, so any LAN gamers will not find their video card coming loose when they're moving their computers to and from LAN party's. This is a feature every motherboard should have, if you ask me :)

    One thing that may have caught your eye in the previous pictures is the blue colored PCI slot. This blue PCI slot is called the "Blue Magic Slot" by ASUS. Apart from supporting ordinary PCI functions it supports Wireless LAN cards for 802.11a, 802.11b & Bluetooth standards of which ASUS will be introducing a wireless LAN card later on that will support all three standards.



    The "Broadcom" chip which is located above and between the first and second PCI slots, is responsible for running the Gigabit LAN controller. If you're lucky enough to be on a network that supports a 1000Mbp (Gigabit) connection, then you'll be able to experience data transfers that is ten times faster than the conventional 10/100 Ethernet connection.



    There are a total of three 184-pin DIMM slots that support up to 3GB of unbuffered non-ECC PC3200, PC2700, PC2100, or PC1600 DDR memory. However if you use PC2700 memory you can only use two DIMM's and if you use PC3500 you may only use one DIMM.



    The VIA VT8235 south bridge chip, which just recently came out, has support for integrated USB 2.0 standard. This means all of the USB ports in the back of motherboard, there are four by the way, support USB2 devices. Another awesome feature that the VT8235 provides us is the 533MB/s V-Link between the north and south bridges on the motherboard. The older via chipsets only supported 266MB/s and that makes the new VT8235 two times faster!


    Aluminum heatsink covering the North Bridge chip

    One of my favorite features of the VIA KT400 chipset is that it supports AGP 8x which is used to power the latest and greatest graphic boards such as the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro and the upcoming Nvidia Geforce 5. AGP 8x is double the speed of AGP 4x, obviously, while having a bus frequency of 533 MHz and a 2.1Gb/s bandwidth pipe. I won't be able to test the AGP 8x because I don't have a card that supports 8x. I'm trying to wait on the Geforce 5, and my source say that it should ship sometime earlier Decemeber :)



    In the back of the motherboard you'll find a rather large amount of ports. You have your standard ports: (2) PS/2, (2) Serial, Parallel, and (2) USB. The extra ports on this board include: (2) more USB, Gigabit LAN, and three integrated sound ports.



    When I was installing my waterblock I ran in to a problem. One of the bolts that go on one of the four screws around the CPU socket prevents the CPU socket lever from opening or closing. The only way around this problem was to unscrew the bolt. This allowed me to open and close the lever without any problems. This is a problem you should take under consideration if you use a water cooler or a heatsink that installs with bolts such as the MCX 462 heatsink.

    Configuration:



    Bios & Overclocking:
    Here are some pics of the important screens in the BIOS.



    The POST screen that appears when you boot the computer. You can actually use a software program that comes on the CD to change this picture! Ofcourse you can also disable the picture completely if you don't like it or if you would like to see the POST messages.



    This is the screen where you can disable the logo, notice the "Full Screen Logo".




    This is the main configuration screen. The multiplier goes up to 22.5x in 0.5x steppings and the FSB goes up to 227 MHz in 1 MHz steppings. The default core voltage is somewhat limited at 1.75 to 1.85 volts with a 0.025v stepping. However, there is a jumper on the motherboard that you can set to allow the core voltage up to 2.0 volts! That makes this board very overclocker friendly.. well, friendly in my book :)



    The memory screen allows you to change all aspects of the memory settings in the BIOS. This screen also has video settings on it, including the AGP capability: 2x, 4x, or 8x. If your card doesn't support 8x the option will not be visible in the bios.




    The hardware monitor screen shows the temperatures of your CPU and motherboard. The screen also shows the current voltages of your system. The coolest feature on this page has to be the Q-Fan Control. This option, when enabled, will automatically adjust your CPU fan speed according to the system load or how hot the CPU is. I think that is one of my favorite features of this board, because now I don't have to use a "3rd party" device such as the thermal take fan controller to control the CPU fan.



    Nothing special on this screen, except the CPU shutdown temperature. If your CPU goes over the set temperature, your system will shutdown to prevent damage to the CPU. Always make sure to turn this on :)

    Testing:



    System 1 (A7V8X):
  • Asus A7V8X motherboard
  • Athlon XP 2100+ CPU
  • Samsung PC-2700 DDR Memory
  • MSI 40x16x40 CDRW
  • Windows XP

    System 2 (KX7-333):
  • Abit KX7-333R motherboard
  • Athlon XP 2100+ CPU
  • Samsung PC-2700 DDR Memory
  • MSI 40x16x40 CDRW
  • Windows XP


    SiSoft Sandra




    Quake 3 Arena



    GLExcess


    3DMark2001SE

    Conclusion:

    Because of the problems I had with the my bolted water block, this motherboard may not be the ideal board for a water cooling enthusiasts. If it wasn't for that flaw, I would have given this board our OCC Recommended Award for Excellence. I still recommend this board to any other user that is seeking the best and latest technology packed in to one motherboard. While there are a lot of overclocking and memory tweaking settings inside the BIOS, it still isn't an "overclockers delight". My KX7-333R has a few other tweaking options that this board does not have, which may explain why the KX7-333R beat this board in one or two tests. The 3DMark2001SE benchmark with this board was astonishing. I'd really like to test this board with an AGP 8x capable video card to see what kind of scores I can get. Bottom line, this is a great performing board with tons of extra features and I recommend this board to anyone that doesn't have a bolted heatsink or water cooling setup.

    Pros:


    Cons: