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Gigabyte GA-7VTXH

Written By:
Date Posted: February 4, 2002
Updated: May 14, 2002

We've been kicking our board for a bit over 2 months now, and we felt it necessary to update our review with some glaring issues we've encountered since testing a while back. We also updated our benchmarks to demonstrate it's performance against the Asus A7V266-E, which we've also tested.

Sporting the VIA KT266A, it's no secret that the chipset is probably the best performing, and the most polished Athlon chipset currently on the market. My first VIA based motherboard, the Asus P3V4X was a satisfactory purchase, despite being a little weak in the memory bandwidth department. Still, they are relatively cheap, and plentiful, making them easy to find. The KT266A is a refinement of the original KT266 DDR chipset, and improves on it's older brother by correcting several bugs, as well as being faster and more stable. All the must have features are supported, such as a 200/266 FSB support, PC1600/2100 DDR, ATA100, AGP 4x, support for 6 USB (1.1) ports and AC-97 Audio. Rather than Hypertransport, VIA uses their own V-Link architecture to speed up operations between the North and South bridges (running at 266mhz). It's no wonder that many manufacturers are making KT266A motherboards (some skipped the KT266 altogether), and today, we'll relook at Gigabyte's offering.

First, we'll look at the obligatory factory specifications.

Socket A for AMD Athlon"/Athlon"XP/Duron" 200/266 MHz FSB processors

Supports 500MHz ~ 2000+ CPU and faster
FSB adjustable by BIOS up to 161MHz(no guarantee)
Supports CPU multiplier 5.0/5.5/.../12.5
CPU voltage overclockable by adding 5%, 10% CPU voltage

VIA KT266A system controller north bridge
VIA VT8233A V-Link south bridge
Creative CT-5880 sound chip and AC97 Codec
Realtek 8100 10/100Mb LAN chip

Supports PC1600/DDR200 or PC2100/DDR266 DDR memory
Supports up to 3GB DDR memory
3 DIMMs of 184-pin DDR sockets

1 x AGP 4X slot
5 x PCI slots support 33MHz and PCI 2.2 compliant

2 x UDMA ATA 66/100/133 bus master IDE ports on board
1 x RJ45 LAN port on board
1 x FDD, 2 x COM, 1 x LPT, PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse on board
1 x joystick, 1 x line-in, 1 x line-out and 1 x MIC on board
2 x USB ports on board, 2 x USB ports by cable
1 x IrDA connector

ATX power connector
Power-off by Windows ® 95/98/Me/2000/NT/XP shut down and Switch

ATX form factor, 4 layers PCB (21 x 30.40 cm)

2 cooling fan connectors
System health status detect and report by BIOS
H/W detect & report power-in voltage, CPU voltage and CMOS battery status

Dual BIOS, 2 x 2M bit flash ROM, enhanced ACPI feature for PC98/Win98/Win2000 compliance, Green, PnP, DMI, INT13 (>8.4GB) and Anti-Virus functions
IDE#1~#4, SCSI, LS120, ZIP and CD-ROM bootable
AC recovery ON/OFF control
Auto-detect and report system health status
Supports @BIOS"

Suspend-To-RAM (STR)
Supports USB KB/MS Wake up from S3
Poly fuse for keyboard over-current protection
Supports EasyTune III" and Q-Flash

VIA 4-in-1 service pack utility
RealTek LAN driver
Creative PCI sound driver
Hardware monitor utility

The VIA KT266A

Like the KT133A was to the KT133, the KT266A is an upgrade to the much maligned KT266. Here are more official specifications...

Supports AMD Duron" and Athlon" Socket A processors
200/266MHz FSB settings
Support for AGP 2X/4X
Supports up to 4.0GB DDR200/266 SDRAM as well as PC100/133 SDRAM and Virtual Channel memory
266MB/sec high bandwidth North/South Bridge V-Link
Support for Advanced Communications Riser (ACR) Card Standard
Integrated 6 channel AC-97 Audio
Integrated MC-97 Modem
Integrated 10/100 BaseT Ethernet and 1/10Mb HomePNA controller
Support for ATA 33/66/100
6 USB ports, UHCI compliant
Advanced power management capabilities including ACPI/OnNow and AMD's PowerNow"
552-pin BGA VT8366A North Bridge
376-pin BGA VT8233 South Bridge

Of course, the most important consumer features are the Athlon 200/266 Front Side Bus, and DDR Ram support. As explained on the first page, the V-Link is a proprietary link between the Northbridge and Southbridge, bypassing the PCI bus. At 266MHz, it's double the speed as well. The KT266A is pin compatible with the KT266, so it's a simple upgrade for manufacturers to replace their KT266 motherboards with the newer chipset. Unfortunently for the end-user, this is done at the factory, and you cannot do this yourself.

Although the VT8233 Southbridge supports integrated ethernet, our board did not include it, since it'll be up to manufacturers what supported features they should add.

Next Page - The board


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