Hardware Flashback: Asus K7M

Subject: Motherboards | May 8, 2013 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: asus, K7M, Irongate, AMD-751, VIA 686a, retro, Slot A, K7, athlon

 

It might not be entirely obvious to viewers, but I love old hardware.  I came across a stash of old machines at my workplace that we were going to just throw away.  I was able to grab a couple of pretty interesting products from years past that I wanted to share and chat about.  The first of this series should be very familiar to most of you, especially those around when Ryan started his first website.

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It is fun to reminisce about old hardware.  The K7M is a classic.

The Asus K7M was one of the first Slot A motherboards out.  It was arguably the most fully featured of the group.  Its primary competition was the FIC SD-11 and the Gigabyte GA-7IXE.  If you remember that monster of a board (with one very strange layout) then you  most certainly have fond memories of what Asus was able to bring to the table.

The K7M was based on the AMD “Irongate” northbridge (AMD-751).  This was a pretty fully featured chip at the time.  It supported SDRAM up to 100 MHz and featured AGP 2X.  This chip was rumored to contain IP from VIA, but it had distinctly better performance than the competing AGP 2X chipsets from VIA at the time.  I distinctly remember having fewer AGP issues with these boards than products from VIA.  The K7M eschewed the AMD 756 southbridge and instead used the VIA 686A controller.  This was an updated (and fixed) southbridge from VIA that supported up to ATA-66 speeds and USB 1.1.

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Integrated audio was still uncommon back in the day.  If you thought mobo audio quality is bad now...

The K7M was a decent overclocker for the time, but little was known about the EV-6 bus and how it reacted to overclocking.  Bus speeds up to 107 MHz or so were common, but anything above that got pretty flaky fast.  Later BIOS revisions helped a bit, but the 751 was not going to be pushed much further.  It was not until official 133 MHz support came in did we see some legroom with overclocking.

The K7M was a very solid board for being an introductory product.  One thing that always amused me greatly was that Asus, Gigabyte, and other motherboard manufacturers would refuse to show Slot A boards on the floor of Comdex because they feared that Intel would come down upon them like a ton of bricks.  If a person wanted to see a Slot A board, they would have to go into a back room and view it from there, but only upon request.  It was not until the next year that some manufacturers cautiously showed off their AMD offerings.

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Name that mini-slot above the AGP!

I ran this particular board for a while.  I believe I ran the SD-11 longer.  I was doing reviews all the time, so I was swapping out motherboards pretty frequently.  The Asus had a luxury feel about it as compared to the FIC and Gigabyte offerings.  It even had integrated audio and a game port.  Few other products of the time included such a perk.  AMD was on a roll with the original K7 Athlon, and Asus was one of the first partners to really produce a world class motherboard for the architecture.

Source: Asus
May 8, 2013 | 09:59 PM - Posted by Chuck (not verified)

Shoot, you can have my old Tyan Tiger 100 dual cpu mb with 896MB of RAM and 2 PIII 1ghz if you just say the word. I haven't had the heart to throw it away.

January 17, 2014 | 08:12 PM - Posted by Marc (not verified)

You dont know how bad I need that motherboard! I'm quite serious. Ive got a Tyan s1665 at the moment and its cooked. thing is it runs my film writer and I need the ISA slots.

May 8, 2013 | 10:02 PM - Posted by mLocke

AMR!

May 9, 2013 | 11:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hah, beat me to it.

May 8, 2013 | 10:08 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Make sure you use the blue slot with your ATA-66 device!!!  mLocke is also the winner with the Audio/Modem Riser slot.  I never actually saw one of those cards in the flesh.

May 8, 2013 | 10:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

DAAAAAT AGP SLOT.........MMMMM MMMMMMMM GOOD!

May 8, 2013 | 11:18 PM - Posted by Nightwinggl (not verified)

AMR... Wow...

May 9, 2013 | 03:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks, sniff. Seeing that is a nice memory. That was one of my first boards.

May 9, 2013 | 07:05 AM - Posted by Angry

Awesome Josh, you should post stuff like this more often.
My old lady has tried to make me clean out the man cave twice of all my old PC parts.

May 9, 2013 | 10:50 AM - Posted by Micro-Ram (not verified)

CNR - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_and_Networking_Riser

May 9, 2013 | 12:05 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

My first K7M was one I bought myself.  I didn't have any contacts at Asus, and I ran a computer business on the side... so I would often buy the boards then end up integrating them into a system for sale.  I guess you could say it was... well burned in and stable.

I just remember being amazed by how compact it was after using the SD-11.  It was still bigger and definitely "more busy" in terms of components spaced through the board than most other ATX boards at the time.  Looking back I also didn't realize how problematic cooling was on slot processors.  Then again, CPUs at the time didn't radiate heat quite like they do today.  Also... two phase power arrays!

May 9, 2013 | 03:57 PM - Posted by debido666 (not verified)

Used to run BeOS on one of those.

May 11, 2013 | 09:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

NICE :-)

This motherbord was part of my first PC build ( my second pc )

A wopping 256 Mb ram and a 700 MHz cpu ( witch later got OCed )

May 11, 2013 | 09:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

NICE :-)

This motherbord was part of my first PC build ( my second pc )

A wopping 256 Mb ram and a 700 MHz cpu ( witch later got OCed )

September 7, 2013 | 08:45 AM - Posted by JF (not verified)

I bought this Asus K7M mobo in 2000 with Athlon 550 Mhz. With Fic SD-11 were the only two mobo models for Athlon in Argentina a that moment .

I completed my stuff with 128Mb PC-100 (expanded to 256Mb PC-133 pretty quicker), Samsung 8 Gb HDD, state-of-art Teac CDR-56s, Vipper 770 (Nvidia TNT II Chip + 32 Mb VRAM) all this things previously used in my old mobo “Super 7” Soyo Sy-5ehm.
One month later I bought CTR 17” Viewsonic 773 .25 and Pionner 116 DVD Player.
Nice computer, it was my 4th PC and my first PC used at university.

Back in days this AMD machines where faster than any Intel machine in the market, Apple stayed sticked with Motorola/IBM processors (Thanks God today nobody use Apple here)… so AMD was the best offer for me (price/speed).

The mobo was excellent but this city always was way wet (95% all the time)... two years later the mobo finally death. Athlons and Intel P4s triplicate the power:
So I bought Athlon 1400, the system was pretty heat all the time (a real problem). Quicker than nothing was followed with Barton 2500+ (very good Performer/overclocker with my K7N2 Delta2).

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