Changing Of The Guard: Four Athlon Motherboards For DDR400

Gigabyte GA-7VAXP

Board Revision: 1.0

BIOS Version: F4M (22. August 2002)

First, the bad news: unfortunately, the Gigabyte board almost completely refused to work with the Athlon XP 2600+ - after a few seconds, it would turn itself off again. Even upgrading the BIOS did not improve matters; only a test with the Athlon XP 2000+ showed that the board appeared to function. However, Gigabyte confirmed that this issue only happens with some pre-release samples (some bug within the thermal protection of the new Athlon XP) and already sent us the mass-production version of this board, which runs flawlessly and will take part in our huge KT400 roundup soon.

It's too bad that some of the test results are missing, because the features of the 7VAXP are quite impressive: five PCI slots, AGP 8X three DIMM sockets, FireWire controller; Promise UltraATA/133 RAID controller; AC97 sound system; network controller from Realtek; and three fan headers - that's hard to beat. The only thing you'll have to do without is a Serial ATA, but up to now there has been no need to switch over to the new interface. Lastly, this board also has two Eproms - Gigabyte calls this safety feature "DualBIOS."

Happily enough, the package includes a full set of accessories - in addition to the obligatory user guide (in English and very extensive), Gigabyte also provides a user guide for the RAID controller from Promise. Appropriate adapter cables for USB 2.0 and FireWire are also included, as well as a set of ribbon cables (three 80-pin IDE, plus floppy).

One of the nice things about the 7VAXP is that it allows for operation with 333 MHz FSB, so it is prepared for future Athlon processors, or for attempts at extreme overclocking. Here, however, the user manual notes that the memory clock runs synchronously at 333 MHz.