Motherboard Comparison Epox EP-7KXA vs. Asus K7V

How To Run The 7KXA Under Windows 2000 With AGP Turned On, Continued

The way out of this dilemma is very simple though.

All the system devices Windows 2000 knows are listed in a file called 'machine.inf', which you can find in the '\WINNT\inf\' folder (it's actually a hidden folder, so you might have to alter the view properties of your Explorer). In this text file, which can easily be edited with Notepad, you will find a 'chapter' called 'VIA_SYS', looking like this:

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[VIA_SYS]%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0501.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0501%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0505.DeviceDesc% = ISAPNP_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0505%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0576.DeviceDesc% = ISAPNP_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0576%PCI\VEN_1107&DEV_0576.DeviceDesc% = ISAPNP_DRV, PCI\VEN_1107&DEV_0576%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0586.DeviceDesc% = ISAPNP_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0586%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0596.DeviceDesc% = ISAPNP_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0596%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0597.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0597%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0598.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0598%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0691.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0691%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0686.DeviceDesc% = ISAPNP_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0686%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3040.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3040%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3050.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3050%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3051.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3051%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3057.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3057%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8598.DeviceDesc% = VIAAGP_Install,PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8598%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8501.DeviceDesc% = VIAAGP_Install,PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8501%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8601.DeviceDesc% = VIAAGP_Install,PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8601

Here you find all device numbers of VIA-devices that are known to Windows 2000 listed and described. Now all you've got to do is find the line for '0691' and '8598'. Select those and copy them right above or underneath, so that you have the lines twice. Edit one of the '0691' lines and replace '0691' with '0391'. The same you do with one of the '8598'-lines, you replace it with '8391'. Alternatively you can just copy the two lines here and add them:

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%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0391.DeviceDesc% = NO_DRV, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0391%PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8391.DeviceDesc% = VIAAGP_Install, PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8391

Now look for the 'chapter' called 'VIA_MFG'. This is what you'll find:

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VIA_MFG = "VIA"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0501.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to PCI bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0505.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech 82C5x5 CPU to PCI & PCI to ISA bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0576.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech 82C576 CPU to PCI & PCI to ISA bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0586.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech 82C586B (PIPC) PCI to ISA bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0596.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech PCI to ISA bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0597.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech V82C597 CPU to PCI bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0598.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech V82C598 CPU to PCI bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0691.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to PCI bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0686.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech PCI to ISA bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3040.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech 82C586B Power Management Controller"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3050.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech Power Management Controller"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3051.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech Power Management Controller"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_3057.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech Power Management controller"PCI\VEN_1107&DEV_0576.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech 82C576 CPU to PCI & PCI to ISA bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8598.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to AGP Controller"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8501.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to AGP Controller"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8601.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to AGP Controller"

You do the same as above, double the 0691 and 8598 lines and replace them with 0391 and 8391. Or you simply add those two:

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PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_0391.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to PCI bridge"PCI\VEN_1106&DEV_8391.DeviceDesc = "VIA Tech CPU to AGP Controller"

Save your new and updated 'machine.inf' in the \WINNT\inf\-folder.

Now you only need to 'uninstall' the 'PCI standard host CPU bridge' and run the 'hardware wizard'. It will from now on recognize the CPU-to-AGP-controller of the 7KXA and your software can take advantage of AGP4x.

The Boards - Asus K7V

I don't want to go on about it much; Asus is well renowned for its stable and reliable motherboards that stand out of the crowd quite significantly. Recently Asus added the 'jumperfree'-design to the BIOS of all of its new boards, so that even overclockers should be very pleased with Asus now. Stability is of the highest importance to all the people who do serious work on their systems, but even overclockers have an easier life if the board supplies superior stability. Another thing worth mentioning about Asus is the fact that they have the best BIOS-support of all motherboard makers in the world. As soon as there is a new CPU, microcode or other update out from AMD or Intel, you will find a new BIOS-update for your motherboard to keep it up to date. Abit may be trying to compete with Asus in the overclocker scene, but they've got a lot to catch up with in terms of BIOS updates. It's one of the weakest spots of Abit.

The K7V is following the usual Asus-tradition. It's well equipped and well designed. See for yourself:

  • 5 PCI Slots, all are PCI Masters
  • 1 AGP Pro Slot
  • 1 AMR Slot
  • 3 DIMM Slots
  • 2 ATA66 IDE Ports
  • 2 or 4 USB-Ports, cable for additional two is optionally supplied
  • Switching Power Supply
  • Up to 1.5 GB SDRAM or VCRAM
  • ECC Support for Main Memory
  • Award Anti-Virus BIOS with Phoenix look
  • All the Latest ACPI Functions
  • PC Health Monitoring
  • Onboard Aureal Audio (optional)

The board manual is top-notch Asus standard. It describes all that you need to know and then some, e.g. BIOS beep codes. The K7V follows Asus' 'jumperfree' design, which gives you the option to either adjust your board manually with dipswitches or use the comfort of the BIOS setup instead. You can adjust the I/O-voltage on the board from 3.3 to 3.56 V with a jumper and the rest really should be done in the BIOS setup, unless you want to avoid that your customers overclock their system. The BIOS setup offers setting for the CPU-voltage in 0.05 V increments and the following FSB-speeds: 90/92/95/97/ 100 /101/103/105/107/110/112/115/117/120/122/124/127/130/ 133 /136/140/145/150/155 MHz. This should be just about good enough for most of the overclockers out there. You can of course also choose between 100 and 133 MHz memory clock. One other thing may be important to overclockers as well. Once a 'jumperfree' Asus board does not reach POST, mostly because the overclocking was taken over the top, you only need to turn off your system and the next time the board will start at a safe setting and bring you right into the BIOS-setup where you can adjust the CPU-speed. I can remember other motherboards with BIOS-setup adjustable CPU-clock that need to get their CMOS cleared to make it reboot after an unsuccessful overclocking attempt. The solution that Asus offers is a lot smarter and more comfortable.

Once I found out that I had to use the BIOS 1004.02A instead of the latest 1004.04A, the K7V ran absolutely stable with each of the three operating systems I used. The performance was excellent too. It outperformed the 7KXA by a respectable amount and it was faster than VIA's excellent reference board as well.