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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [09.21.00]
Manufactured by: Asus


Getting a Duron or T-Bird? GET This:

AMDers rejoice! AMD's half-assed half cache processor is finally going away! The half-speed external cache is one of the larger reasons the Athlon simply couldn't compete with Intel's P3 as "The Best Damned CPU" for most of this year.  AMD is never one to sit on its laurels and let the other guy win for long, so they went ahead and produced a new version of its Athlon, codenamed Thunderbird.  AMD also unleashed some competition to Intel's awesome Celeron II, the Duron.  To give you a very short summary: The Athlons compete quite well with P3's clock for clock, though they trail slightly behind because many programs are using SSE instructions supported by only Pentium 3 and Celeron 2.

The Duron, on the other hand, whoops the crippled Celeron 2 hands down! In fact, the Duron can compete with the big boys (Athlon and P3) when it comes to games.  Clock for clock though, the P3 and Athlon beat the Duron quite easily. 

What the Duron has going for it, though, is the price! A 600 Mhz Duron can easily be found for just over $60.  As you'll find with the Asus A7V, you should be able to get that $60 running at 900 Mhz no problem.  Talk about bang for your buck!

With the new CPUs though, in new form factors, you are going to need to change your motherboard as well.  Like Intel, AMD decided to cut costs by releasing their chips in a socketed format once again, very similar to Intel's flip-chip design.  With the full speed integrated cache, AMD is finally making a chip that not only is competitive to Intel CPU's but beats them in some cases! I don't want to drag on about CPU's though, but just know that if you are planning on buying a Thunderbird or Duron Socket-A CPU, you're going to want a motherboard based on:

VIA's KT133 Chipset

Let's face it... Buying a chipset made by the CPU manufacturers is a thing of the past.  Intel has failed to produce anything worth our time since the 440BX, and we all know the nightmares of incompatibility with all of AMD's chipsets... It's nice to have someone who, for the most part, can provide us with WHAT WE WANT.  Speed, stability, and compatibility.

The KT133 gives us everything we're used to seeing on VIA's Intel solutions: ATA/66, AGP 4x, support for the latest CPU's, and crappy integrated audio, among other things.  For a full list of features on this particular motherboard, check out Asus' A7V Product Info Page.

One thing the A7V does have that we are just beginning to see on other boards is ATA/100 support.  As of this writing, we don't have an ATA/100 capable hard drive to benchmark this feature, but I do run my ATA/66 hard drive off the promise controller, and I haven't found any compatibility problems with either Windows 98 or Millennium Edition.  I have heard that the jump from ATA/66 to ATA/100 is more significant than ATA/33 to ATA/66.

The A7V includes all the goodies you expect to see on a decent motherboard: 5 PCI slots, 1 AMR slot, and NO ISA slots.  In addition to the onboard ATA/100 controller, you'll of course have 2 regular IDE slots.  Yes, you can have up to EIGHT IDE devices installed at once! This board also has support for SEVEN separate USB ports!  With this board, I'm sure you can bring Windows' Device Manager to its knees!

Some A7V's have onboard sound, but you don't want that, believe me.  I'll tell you why in a bit...

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