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Asus A7V133 KT133A Motherboard Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Asus

Overclocking and RAID

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Asus knows full well that the only way to get a foothold in the consumer market for motherboards, you need to have features: tons and tons of features. They are hoping to cap on this knowledge with the addition of the overclocking and RAID features on the A7V133.

On the PCB of the motherboard, you will see two sets of dipswitches and one important set of jumpers. These are control the multiplier, front-side bus and core voltage of the processor. However, they are nearly useless, as Asus has included a jumperless option of editing these settings by using the Bios. Inside the AwardBIOS the user can chance the multiplier, from 5.5x to 12.5x; can edit the core voltage from 1.1v to 1.85v; and can also edit the FSB anywhere from 95 MHz to 166 MHz in 1 MHz steppings. This is the first motherboard that I have reviewed to have an option for FSB over 155 MHz, such as the KT7A motherboards. If you plan on trying to push your FSB to the fullest this is an important note that you may want to store in the back of your mind.

One little thing that bothered me on this board was the fact that if you tried to overclock the CPU past its limit, and the board would not post, there was no Clear CMOS jumper only two solder points that were located high up and to the right of the motherboard that needed to be shorted. I also didn’t see any options in the manually that use the keyboard to send a Clear CMOS command to the motherboard. The solder point isn’t even a standard jumper, just two points on the motherboard that need to be manually shorted. I really don’t understand why they left the jumper off of it. Plus, the location of the point is too high and deep in the motherboard to reach easily when placed inside a case. This is a minor complaint, and just an extra hassle.

So, how did the Asus A7V133 perform in the overclocking section? Quite well, reaching a post at 155/310 MHz DDR and running stable at 150/300 MHz DDR FSB. I could again bring my 1.2 GHz Athlon up to 1.35 GHz, just as I did on the Epox 8KTA3 motherboard. While only a 150 MHz overclocking, this high of a FSB greatly increases your memory bandwidth, and as the benchmarks will later show, creeps closer to DDR speed.

Something that will be of interest for users who still own 100/200 MHz FSB Durons and Athlons: I was able to get both a Duron 650 and Athlon 700 using a 133 MHz FSB stable, running at 864 MHz (6.5 x 133). Proper cooling is needed for this kind of overclocking, and since the socket on the A7V133 allows big HSFs, it shouldn’t be a problem. This is a clear indication that the limit on the FSB for Athlon processors fell on the chipsets, not really the processors. Both of the overclocked CPUs were older, first generation processor, and are slated for only 100/200 MHz DDR FSB. Before the KT133A chipset, these processors would only run stable at FSB of around 112 MHz. This jump is too significant to put it on any other factors.

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Not to be outdone by Abit, Iwill and even Epox, Asus has opted to include an IDE RAID solution on their A7V133 motherboard. Using the Promise PDC20265 onboard chipset, Asus has added an extra set of ATA100 IDE ports to the motherboard. I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t have a lot of experience with this chipset in particular but I was confused to find that the Promise IDE RAID only supports RAID 0. RAID 0 is the stripping option, that allows to 2 hard drives to perform as a single drive. While this is the option that most performance users would use, the lack of RAID 1 or RAID 0+1 leaves those who either want their data secure with a mirrored system AND those who have the money to both stripping and mirroring out in the cold. The setup is easy enough to install the hard drives and setup a RAID 0 array, however. A jumper needs to be changed, and the Promise BIOS is initiated the first time two hard drives are connected to the IDE channels 3 and 4. A simple menu Promise Bios option or two and you are on your way.

I really don’t understand why Asus would choose to support only the RAID 0 crowd. With other motherboards such as the KT7A-RAID, Epox 8KTA3+ and Iwill KK266-R using IDE RAID will all the options Asus really should have put the extra time and effort into getting a chipset for the A7V133 that has RAID 0, 1, and 0+1 support.