Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Motherboard ReviewBosco -
: GF City Computers
Price: $150 USD
After a little bit of Intel I've done for a few reviews back, now we're heading towards AMD again. This time we will be looking at the Gigabyte GA-7VAXP motherboard. There was alot of anticipation for VIA's KT400 chipset, since now DDR400 is officially supported, allowing users to use even faster memory than ever before, and AGP 8x is now supported. Today we're going to see how it compares to an older board, the GA-7VRXP.
The package includes the motherboard (of course), an ATA133 IDE cable, a floppy IDE cable, manual, driver CD, USB cables, and FireWire cables.
Here is the motherboard. Again, having only 5 PCI slots means that the AGP slot is placed low enough so that you won't have to remove the video card everytime you need to add or remove memory modules. However, placing the 4 IDE ports so close together could be a little tight for cabling, especially for rounded cable users.
Pretty much a Gigabyte standard, their Dual-BIOS feature prevents the motherboard from become totally unusable because of a virus corruption or a poor BIOS flash. If the current one fails, the backup one is read from read-only memory, so your system can continue to function.
USB v2.0 and FireWire features complement the board, making it very convenient to add new external devices later.
It's nice to see that they included a fan on the Northbridge. Alot of Northbridges are starting to get hot as well nowadays. Here Gigabyte boasts the board's AGP 8x support.
Not too surprisingly, the test results were extremely tight, with neither board showing a significant advantage over the other. This could be for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the GA-7VRXP would run the memory only at 333MHz max, and that the KT400 chipset may not necessarily have improved every aspect that the KT333 chipset originally provided.
Test System 1
Test System 2
I'm not sure as to why the difference can be as big as 1000 points. What was even more disturbing was that without the 4-in-1 drivers, the GA-7VAXP would only score ~7500 points, and yet the GA-7VRXP maintains its ~11000 score with or without the drivers!
Up to this point I am still unsure why the bandwidth results are so low! It's as if the DRAM speed is 1:1 with the CPU front side bus, but all my system reports say that the memory is running at either 400MHz (or 333MHz for the GA-7VRXP).
Overclocking results were very good as well, with both boards being able to reach a front side bus of 157MHz before stability problems occurred. Even yet, those problems may have been averted with a little bit more voltage, but we'll leave that for the most determined of overclockers, since we only have 1 AthlonXP CPU on hand.
In terms of improvement over the GA-7VRXP the new features include DDR400 support and AGP 8x. As an upgrade from the KT333 chipset, it's probably not so good, but for someone who is upgrading from an older machine, s/he should find this board very attractive in both the feature set and the price, and with room for high-end peripheral support in the future, for games and other programs that actually use the full power of AGP 8x. Its nice overclockability is also a plus for the overclockers out there. Overall, I would recommend this board to anyone who is looking for a complete upgrade from an old system to a new AMD system.