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Closer Look

Now that we have started talking about Instant Music, let us dwell upon this feature first. So, what is Instant Music? It’s simple – you can listen to audio CDs without booting up the system and even without going through the POST procedure. The CPU is in use, though, and that’s why I doubt that you can use Instant Music if you overclock your CPU too much. Actually, Instant Music is a nice feature, although I wish something could be displayed on the monitor during the CD-disk playback: the music track number or hints about the controls, for instance. Of course, there are those stickers for your keyboard, but I didn’t have them. Moreover, I’m too much in love with my home keyboard to glue anything to it. Otherwise, Instant Music is all right.

Yet another interesting, but slightly underdeveloped function of this mainboard is Q-Fan technology. It reduces the CPU fan rotation speed in order to reduce the noise it produces. It does reduce the fan speed, but seems to be unable to increase it back after the CPU grows too hot. For example, I had my processor 70oC hot, but the fan was still rotating at the reduced rpm level.

Thus, if you set the fan rotation speed to 10/15 of the nominal rpm level (the range is from 10/15 to 15/15, which is the full rotation speed), and thus reduce the cooling ability of your fan, you won’t learn that it is insufficient for your system until the computer re-boots or the overheat protection system turns on. You may agree that a similar technology from AOpen aka SilentTek, which we have already discussed in our Six VIA KT400A Mainboards Roundup looks more perfect. For example, it allows setting the dependence of the fan rotation speed on the CPU temperature. Overall, AOpen’s technology is more functional than Q-Fan from ASUS.

ASUS A7V600 has something to be called unique: a special-purpose Wi-Fi slot. As you may guess, this slot serves to accommodate WLAN kits from ASUS, recently announced under the name of Wi-Fi@HOME. The kit consists of a card, an antenna and software that makes this device work as a gateway (in Windows XP only) and ensures shared Internet access. The 802.11b standard is supported, providing an up to 11Mbit/s bandwidth and covering 30-meter distance in an apartment. Other kits are on schedule, with support of 802.11g and other wireless standards and Wi-Fi Slot-compatible, so you won’t have to upgrade the mainboard to use a newer standard.

Wi-Fi@HOME devices protect the data sent through the WLAN with the help of encryption according to the WEP protocol (Wire Equivalent Privacy): 64-bit or 128-bit-long keys. This standard is considered appropriate for data transferred in home WLANs. It is not recommended to trust WEP the transfer of confidential data – better use a wired network or the good old diskette and CD-disc.

If you don’t have the opportunity or wish to deploy a wireless network, you are offered wired options. As most modern mainboards, ASUS A7V600 is equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet controller. The controller from Marvell supports Virtual Cable Tester technology, which is described in detail at Marvell’s website. I will explain just the main idea of it to you here: according to Marvell, Virtual Cable Tester can diagnose many problems with the Ethernet cable like ruptures or bridges with about one-meter precision. Virtual Cable Tester can also shoot such troubles as pair swaps, pair polarity and some others.

 
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