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.
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
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:
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).
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
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.
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.
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)
- Slow ATA/66 hard drive support compared
with the HighPoint controller on Abit boards.
- No fan connector near bottom of board
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
:) :) :) :) +
Copyright July 16th, 2000