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Reviewed by: Trevor Flynn [08.19.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson

Manufactured by: Gigabyte
Est. Street Price: $80-95

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First Impressions

The packaging is pretty standard fare.  Not drab and boring, but also not as interesting as the flip front box included with the 7NNXP.

Something I did find extremely strange however was that contained in the "brag" section which is the back of the box is a picture and description of the DPS2 Dual Power System. Yes, that exact same system that is absent from this board. If I was to buy this board from a retail outlet I wouldn't be very impressed by the fact that an item which is so prominently displayed on the back of the box as a Gigabyte "Unique Feature" was in fact not included with my purchased Gigabyte motherboard. There is also a quick mention of the included "Yellow Thunder Socket".  If a yellow colored CPU socket isn't a selling point I don't know what is....

Out of the box the 7VT600 includes what can be described as an adequate bundle.

Aside from only having a single IDE cable (not that you'd want a second ugly yellow one anyway) everything you need to get your board up and running out of the box is included. Like many of its nForce2 counterparts the 7VT600 does not include any of the extra audio header brackets so if you want to get full use out of the onboard 6 channel sound expect to pony up some extra cash to get the backplate adapter.

The software bundles includes a complete copy of Norton Internet Security 2003 in addition to the standard bundled applications that are included with all motherboards now days.

The Board

Gigabyte has once again gone with the "color coded" color scheme for the 7VT600.  Personally I prefer a theme of some sort, but that's just me. For whatever reason some people enjoy tricolor led case fans. If you are one of those people, then you'll appreciate Gigabyte's flamboyant coloring efforts.

Now, while I may not be a fan of multicolored components, I do very much like the color-coded pin headers. If you've ever accidentally place a led on pin too far to the left or right an then been unable to figure out why your reset button didn't work you'll enjoy this little added feature.

The Northbridge comes with a small passive cooler which is attached using, a very thin layer thermal tape as opposed to the thermal grease that most people prefer.

Fortunately the VIA north bridge runs much cooler than that of the nForce2, so this small passive cooler is all that is required. Anyone who's doing any type of overclocking might want to look into a better thermal solution, however if you factor in the absence of a DPS system I'm thinking Gigabyte isn't too confident in this boards ability to overclock anyway. We'll give it a full run for it's money in a little bit to see if that is in fact the case.

Something that I missed mentioning in the 7NNXP review is the AGP retention mechanism.

Each motherboard manufacturer seems to have developed their own version of a retention clip, and I think that Gigabyte has come up with one of the better ones (the worst has to be the clip found on Intel's retail boards). The little white clip is spring loaded and easily engages and disengages. I personally find these retention clips to be more of an annoyance than anything, but with increasingly heavy video cards and an increasingly mobile user base it would seem these clips are here to stay.

Most motherboards have their little flaws and the 7VT600 is no different. I have three main annoyanaces with the layout of this board and they all center around the "Yellow Thunder" CPU socket.

First off, there are no mounting holes around the CPU socket, something which is essential for both high-end air and water cooling setups.

Secondly is the lack of clearance around the socket itself.  The mounting holes really are just an afterthought when you consider that any cooling solutions that would require them wouldn't have enough clearance anyway. As you can see here, I didn't have even close to enough clearance to install a moderately sized Vantec Aeroflow cooler.

I ended up having to settle for an old Thermaltake Volcano II that I had lying around. It is roughly the same size as a stock AMD cooler. If you have anything bigger than that you might want to measure before buying this board.

My third and final beef with the socket is it's location and rotation.  The socket is located right on the top edge of the motherboard and is rotated with the edge where your HSF will clamp down pointed out.  Because of this setup installing/removing your HSF from anything but the largest cases will be a giant pain, and will more than likely require the removal of your power supply.

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