DDR400 for Athlon: A Comparison of 9 Motherboards

Asus A7V8X

Board revision: 1.03

BIOS version: 1006 (September 13, 2002)

The A7V8X is true to Asus form: six PCI slots, three DIMM sockets and an AC97 sound system are part of today's standard equipment. What is unusual, though, is the Gigabit Ethernet controller from Broadcom (BCM5702CKFB), as well as the configuration of the IDE RAID controller.

The epitome of networking: Broadcom network controller for 10, 100 or even 1,000 MBit/s.

The current Serial ATA-capable chip from Promise (PDC20376) does its job on this board, providing two Serial ATA ports and a conventional, 40-pin ATA port.

The board comes with the following: two 80-pin IDE cables; one 40-pin cable; two Serial ATA cables (unfortunately much too short); one ATX panel; and a comprehensive manual (in English), including a CD with the drivers and software (see table at the end of this article).

Asus includes two adapter boards with cables with the A7V8X - the left one offers digital coaxial I/O for the sound system, which is important for loss-free recording and playback. The right one offers two FireWire ports.

Restrained use of colors on the package. Informative details including reference to DDR400.

Asus came out on top in the benchmarks, too. The A7V8X was one of the best performers with DDR333, as well as with DDR400. The results were even marginally better with DDR333.

The BIOS is well laid-out and offers all the options you need for overclocking: FSB clock settings from 100 to 200 MHz; adjustable multiplier (provided there's an unlocked processor); and the option to increase the CPU core voltage. Even the new FSB clock, which, at 166 MHz, is appealing to the new Athlons, is supported by the Asus board up to specifications (with PCI at 1/5 of the FSB clock and AGP at 2/5).