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A Real Nail-Biter: Four Boards With ALi Magik 1

Asus A7A266: The Winner In Performance Tests

BIOS: REV. 1004 BETA 002

Board revision: 1.03

The Asus A7A266 comes in a standard package that doesn't stand out from the other commonplace designs. On the actual board, the manufacturer hearkens back to ALi's layout model. The Asus A7A266 is the only candidate in this comparison that has a combo solution for the memory slots: Both SDRAM (three modules) and DDR SDRAM modules (two modules) can be inserted. Combined operation is not possible.

The test of these boards did not go off without a hitch: The first version of the board showed high performance, but its unstable operation was a noticeable negative. It was only a second board, brought in later by Asus, in interaction with third BIOS that showed improvement in stability as well as performance. The three different BIOS versions showed how heavily a motherboard relies on the BIOS: The difference between the fastest and the slowest BIOS in overall performance is just short of 10 percent. When equipped with DDR SDRAM memory, the Asus A7A266 occupied the top rung in all benchmarks. The board is the only test candidate to have an AGP Pro socket. The placement of an AMR slot for which there is no peripheral available in the retail market is questionable.

Overclocking fans will be less impressed by this board: An adjustment of the multiplier is not possible, as the board is not equipped with the necessary DIP switch. Asus is trying to take the end user market by storm with this board - the attractive price is supposed to generate high sales figures.