Articles: Mainboards
 

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PCB Design

The design of the mainboard’s PCB is traditional for a product based on VIA’s chipset. There are certain deviations from the norm, though, that can hardly be called appropriate.

First, the ATX power connector sits on the front part of the PCB. We have already seen this solution in DFI LAN PARTY NFII Ultra. I guessed that the engineers just couldn’t put the relatively large connector in its proper place because it was occupied by some components of the CPU power supply circuit. I can’t actually explain why this is done on ASUS A7V600 with its definitely less impressive power supply circuit. By the way, there are some empty spots on A7V600 PCB right where the power supply circuit is laid out. I counted four landing places for power transistors, three - for capacitors and over ten - for smaller items like resistors. It looks as if ASUS had decided to become greedy and save on “unnecessary” details.

The onboard connector of the second COM port is fitted in between two PCI slots. It may cause difficulties when plugging-in add-on cards or the COM cable itself. The game port is right before the PCI slots, although it is a small inconvenience. Finally, there is the common problem of the installed graphics card blocking the DIMM slot clips. Moreover, you will have this problem even using a shorter card like RADEON 9700 PRO. Even in this case all three DIMM slots are blocked, while on other mainboards it is usually only the first one that suffers.

Otherwise, the PCB design is quite good, and our further faultfinding was fruitless. As for words of approval, we would like to point out that ASUS engineers managed to make the mainboard user-friendlier: the contacts for Power, Reset and other buttons are color-coded, while a special LED informs you about standby power.

BIOS and Overclocking

The mainboard’s BIOS uses the microcode from Award. The interface of the BIOS Setup differs from what we are accustomed to see and resembles the interface of the Albatron KM18G Pro mainboard (see our Albatron KM18G PRO (NVIDIA nForce2 IGP) Mainboard Review). Anyway, you will learn quickly to use it.

The BIOS Setup has no main window, so the user will get right into the Standard section. It is not so interesting to us, so we go over to the Advanced section. This page includes nearly all user-defined settings, save for the boot-up sequence (it is in the Boot section), hard disk drive settings (in the Main section) and power settings (Power).

The Advanced page you see in the snapshot contains several submenus, but we will now talk about the options we have in the main menu. So, the CPU frequency comes first. There are a few presets as well as the Manual option for you to choose the CPU clock-rate yourself. If this is the case, you are free to vary the system bus frequency from 100 to 250MHz with 1MHz increment and select a multiplier from a range of 5x – 22.5x. It is good that you can see the PCI frequency corresponding to the selected system bus frequency. It is not good that you are not allowed to enter the values from the keyboard, but have to scroll through a long list of possible values.

 
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