RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

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



Here's something that can make or break a good board; features.  Here's a short 'at glance' list:

  • Supports AMD Duron and Athlon (Socket-A Only)
  • Up to 1.5GB of memory; 3 DIMMs PC133, PC100, HSDRAM, VCM/133
  • 5 PCI slots, 1 AGP PRO 4x Slot, 1 AMR slot
  • UltraDMA/100 and DMA/66 IDE support
  • Large ATX form factor (24.5cm x 30.5cm or 9.6" x 12.0")
  • PC Health Monitoring
  • Diagnostic LEDs
  • Etcetera :)

You want the full list? Again, we're not going to waste a whole page on that; head to Asus' product page.

What's the first thing you notice about this board? It is Fn HUGE! It is almost as wide as a Voodoo5 6000 is long, but don't worry, it still complies with ATX specifications.  I had no problem installing it in two separate cases.

Get Those Caps Out Of My Way!

If you are anything like me, you are using a huge heatsink, and are overclocking your processor as high as possible.  If so, this is definitely a board worth considering...

As you can see, that A7V uses a handy riser to keep those pesky electrolytic capacitors out of the way.  Gone are the problems with having to bend the risers (eek!) to make room for that fat Alpha or Golden Orb heatsink.  Also, unlike slot-based motherboards, you won't have any problems with the heatsink blocking any DIMM slots.

Another thing that is heatisnk-friendly is the plastic clip they use to retain the CPU in the socket.  More and more boards are using these now, and it is a good thing...

If you have a board with a metal clip, you will know what it is like trying to bend the thing down to make room for your heatsink.. Not a fun thing to do.. Once again, Asus is providing us with a stable and overclock-friendly motherboard!

An Overclocker's Dream

So you have room to put a huge heatsink on your CPU, and as you may know, Durons are particularly overclock-friendly (as I mentioned, having your 600 Mhz chip run at 800 or 900 Mhz is common with good cooling).  The thing I really love about AMD CPU's is multiplier overclocking.  If you're used to overclocking with Intel CPU's, you know what it's like to not only watch over the CPU for stability at high speeds, but everything else, since you are overclocking the Front Side Bus, and thus everything else in your PC is going out of spec.  RAM and Video Cards are effected by this the most.

If you have an unlocked Duron or Athlon CPU, you can easily overclock it by changing the multiplier.  Nothing else is required! You can use the same PC100 ram you always had, and your video card will not be affected by the overclocking! If your CPU is locked, it is very easy to unlock it yourself, with the use of a mechanical pencil.

Once the CPU is successfully unlocked, you can proceed with the overclocking! Asus makes this very easy by supplying the board with dip switches to set your own multiplier, and FSB settings, and jumpers to set the voltage of the CPU.  You'll probably want to keep the FSB at 100 MHz, since these DDR Front Side Bus of the KT133 chipset tends not to allow much higher than 110 Mhz (220 effectively).

No, this shot is not upside-down - This is how they are on the board and in the manual!

Software-based multiplier setting would have been preferred over dip switches, but it certainly beats taking a razor and pencil to your CPU every time you want to change the settings.  Yes, even with a motherboard that doesn't allow multiplier, voltage, or FSB setting, you can still overclock your Duron and Thunderbird! As long as you don't have a CPU with missing pins (none have showed up yet, but AMD assures as that they are coming), you can set your CPU to whatever you like using this handy applet over at OCInside (a German OC site, but this page is in English).  Simply tell them what you want for settings, and you immediately get graphics telling you how to connect and/or disconnect the bridges found on the CPU!

With multiplier settings up to 12.5, and the ability to set your FSB safely up to 110 Mhz, you have a LOT of choices for your CPU... Anywhere from default to 1375 Mhz! I doubt we will see any 1.4 Ghz machines for a while, but like I said, a Duron 600 @ 900 or Thunderbird Purple 750 @ 1.1 Ghz can be expected (no guarantees though!).

Next Page: (3)