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Asus K7V Athlon Mobo
Mini Review
Dr. John

  The Asus K7V motherboard is big!  No micro ATX form factor here.  It's got some nice features too, including an AGP Pro socket.  It's also missing something... an ISA slot!  You knew they were on their way out, and this is one sure sign it's started.  Unfortunately, the K7V board appeared a little late to market, now that AMD is transitioning the Athlon line over to the Socket-A format.  Since it is still not clear whether Socket-A to Slot-A converter cards will come to market, the K7V may have a short lifespan.

Board layout:  The Asus K7V has relatively good placement of components.  The two things I disliked most were the AMR (audio-modem riser slot) which would have served more use if it were an ISA slot or a sixth PCI slot, and the DIMM sockets being located too near the CPU socket.  This will cause problems for people with large Athlon coolers like the Alpha. If you have a retail Slot-A Athlon with a standard heat sink and fan, there is plenty of room.

  The other thing I noticed quickly was the lack of a case fan connector at the bottom of the board.  You'll need a 4-pin (case-type) fan for the front fan housing in your case.  There is a 3rd fan connector up near the battery, but it's too far away from the front housing in most ATX cases.

Setup and Bootup: The board installed easily, but due to it's large size, it took 8 screws to fasten it down.  You will need an ATX case that accepts full sized ATX mainboards.  The system we tested the K7V in was as follows:

Athlon 700MHz, retail
128MB NEC PC-133 SDRAM
Antec 300W Full Tower case
Western Digital or Fugitsu ATA/66 drive
Vodoo5 5500 card, 64MB
Sound Blaster X-gamer sound card
Win98SE and Direct X 7.0a


  The K7V sports an Award BIOS (Medallion BIOS ver. 6.0, rev. 1003, 3/13/2000).  This particular implementation of Award's BIOS seemed to lack a few small settings, like the numlock key status. Also, I could not find settings for enabling or disabling APM or ACPI power functions.  In all, I prefer the way Abit organizes their BIOS setup menus.

   Most testing was done with the front side bus frequency set at 107MHz, which was very stable.  One BIOS setting which caused problems was turning on AGP fast-writes, where the system hung every time with the V5 5500 card. I left the core voltage to the CPU at the processor default.

  Boot times were quick, averaging about 42 seconds from a cold start (quick-boot enabled, and no Windows start sound).

Bus Overclocking:  Testing was done with Unreal Tournament, Quake III Arena, and 3D Mark 2000. The main thing I was interested in was how stable the system was when overclocked.  Athlon systems do not overclock very much on the front side bus due to their double-data rate EV6 bus architecture. Typically, the maximum bus speed is between 105MHz and 110MHz.

  The system was completely stable when set at 103 and 105MHz.  Going up one notch in the BIOS to 107MHz was also very stable, and gave a system rating of 753MHz. The next higher setting in the BIOS was 110MHz, which did not boot properly, even after several attempts.  It would have been nice if Asus had given us 1MHz increments on the front side bus settings, so we could squeeze the last bit of speed out of the CPU.

  Testing under 3D Mark 2000 went as expected. The system did not hang or glitch at all while running at 107MHz, and gave typical results for a Voodoo5 in an Athlon system running at around 750MHz (1024 X 768 x 16 = 3479 3D Marks). I left the demo running in a loop for hours, and it did not hang, glitch or drop to the Windows desk top.  Stability was excellent.

  The system ran Unreal Tournament like a champ. I played an entire game at 640 X 480 X 16 and got a benchmark of 104 frames per second, averaged throughout the game.  With 2X FSAA enabled on the Voodoo5 5500 card, the frames per second dropped to 82 when averaged throughout an entire game.  With the FSAA set to 4X, the frame rates remained at an acceptable 48fps average, with excellent image quality.  The system did not hang or glitch even once during the benchmarking.

  Performance in Quake III was quite acceptable in 16 bit color, with detail set to maximum. The timedemo demo001 result was a respectable 77.8fps at 1024 x 768 x 16.  Stability was perfect.

Summary:  The K7V is a nice Athlon motherboard, but probably not quite as good as the new Abit KA7-100.  It has fewer BIOS and overclock settings, and the built-in ATA/66 controller in the VIA chipset can't hold a candle to the HighPoint ATA/100 controller on the KA7-100.  As Athlon overclock boards go, the K7V did well, being absolutely stable at 107MHz with a retail Athlon 700.  If you don't need the extra overclock speeds in Softmenu III, or the better IDE hard drive support, the K7V is a nice Slot-A board.  But as with all Asus products, there is very little in the way of technical support. It's by email only, and it usually takes them at least a week to get back to you. 


Pros: 
  • Front side bus overclocking
  • Core voltage adjustments for the CPU
  • Stable at 107MHz
  • No on-board audio
  • Jumperless/dipswitch-less setup
  • AGP Pro socket
  • AGP 4X (no biggie)
Cons: 
  • Slow ATA/66 hard drive support compared with the HighPoint controller on Abit boards.
  • No fan connector near bottom of board
  • Overclock settings don't go in 1MHz increments
  • Audio Modem riser slot not helpful (a sixth PCI slot would be).
  • Too large for small cases
  • DIMM sockets near CPU socket (not enough room for the Alpha cooler)

Rating, Asus K7V:  4.1 out of 5 smiley faces 
:) :) :) :) +

Availability: Good

 

Copyright July 16th, 2000