Asus K7V-RM Motherboard Review
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.As the picture and description tells you, the Asus K7V-RM is a micro-ATX solution for Athlon owners or system builders, who wish to keep the cost of a new system as low as possible. Using the KX133 chipset, the K7V-RM has all the standard features that standard ATX form motherboards have. The north bridge of the KX133 chipset, the Via 371, controls the 133 MHz system bus and the 4x AGP bus available. Most are probably familiar with this already, but it is important to note that 371 chipset uses the System Bus + 33 method of acquiring the 133 MHz bus. Standard Athlon speeds are 100 MHz bus and the addition 33 MHz makes the memory speed hit 133 MHz. The board also supports the older PC100 memory and maintains backward compatibility for your current memory. However, if you are an overclocker, and like to push your system bus past the 100 MHz mark, be sure to remember that the Via 371 chipset uses a ratio of 4:3 on memory:system buses if you leave the option on. That means if you have PC133 memory and want to full utilize it, but still want to push the system bus to 107 MHz for overclocking ability, then your memory bus will run at 140 MHz, so make sure you have quality RAM that handle the extra pressure. In our labs, we have gotten as high as 144 MHz with the Athlon tested PC133 RAM at Mushkin. And as an extra benefit, Asus has included the standard 3 DIMM slots, even in the micro-ATX format.
Let's not forget the new AGP 4x slot that is included on all the KX133 chipset boards. The K7V-RM is however one of the first Athlon motherboards to include support for the AGP Pro50 cards. These are merely extended connectors, about an additional 20 pins, for an AGP card to get more power to itself if needed. There are not many cards out on the market yet that take advantage of this, and the fact that the Athlon processor itself takes up so much power makes the compatibility of the AGP Pro50 slot questionable. Either way, this shows that Asus is again attempting to look out for the future success of motherboards that have already been purchased by consumers. In the motherboard testing, we ran the Asus v6800 DDR GeForce card in 1x, 2x and 4x modes with a problem. Though the increase is still minimal with RAM restrictions, 4x speed is an added benefit for gamers to get every last ounce out of their video cards.
Down south on the Asus K7V-RM, they use the 686A bridge, the very same chip that the K7M and K7M-RM used. This is mainly a cost issue, since this VIA chip allows manufacturers to cut the amount PCB they use by combining the different functions of a south bridge, such as system monitor and PCI bus, into a single chip. Also a factor with the form factor of the case is is the amount of expansion available. There is a 3/1/1 set up on the board. 3 PCI slots, 1 AMR slot, 1 AGP Pro50 slot. If you have an ISA slot, I hope for your sake its the sound card so you can get rid of it and take advantage of the AC'97 support. The AGP slot will welcome any high end graphics card, but there is simply not enough room to expand fully with sound cards, RAID controllers, etc. If you have just enough cards to fill up the K7V-RM, I would recommend the K7V, as it sports 5 PCI slots. And it is always better to have to many expansion slots than too few.
The AC'97 audio included on the board uses the Crystal Logic SoundFusion codec. The audio is powered through your Athlon processor, so the higher end CPU you have, the better performance you are going to get from the on-board sound. The sound can be disabled in the BIOS via a simple Enabled/Disabled switch, which is good new for those of us who will add better quality sound cards to the system, such as a Sound Blaster Live!. The AC'97 codec is a good benefit for those who don't need great sound or for system builders who are looking to save money and the extra PCI slot for another device.
Asus has always been the overclockers choice of motherboards, as the K7M was the first Athlon motherboard to offer FSB options that were useful and customizable. The K7V series does the same, with FSB options of 90 / 92 / 95 / 97 / 100 / 101 / 103 / 105 / 107 / 110 / 112 and 115MHz. While we were never able to accomplish it, some Athlon users have reported hitting the 112 and 115 MHz mark, but I have found that 107 is most stable overclocking solution in most cases. You can try each, as the most damage that should occur is crashing and perhaps the inability for the motherboard to POST. Simply clear the CMOS, and try again. Also included in the BIOS set up is the ability to change the core voltage of the CPU, which overclockers with stability problems or GFDs should enjoy.