Testbed and Methods
This is our testbed configuration:
- Athlon XP 3200+ CPU;
- ASUS A7V600 mainboard;
- 2x256MB OCZ PC3700 EL DDR SDRAM;
- Seagate Barracuda ATA IV 40GB HDD;
- ATI RADEON 9700 PRO graphics card;
- Chipset driver: VIA Hyperion 4.48;
- Graphics driver: ATI Catalyst 3.6.
The testbed worked in Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 and DirectX 9.0a installed.
Now, a few words about the memory timings. Firstly, for the system to work at all (to boot Windows up) at 200MHz memory frequency, I had to disable the SDRAM 1T Command Rate in the BIOS. So, Command Rate was set to 2. After a lot of experiments, I found the system to be fully stable with 2-3-3-6-2T memory timings, so I used them during the tests.
I am inclined to think that these problems are connected with the chipset rather than the mainboard. As an indirect evidence, I can point to VIA’s launching a PC3200 modules certification program not so long ago. Mainboard manufacturers that offer KT600-based products also test memory modules for compatibility. Particularly, ASUS’ website lists modules tested for compatibility with A7V600. Regrettably, the Corsair and OCZ modules we have at hand are not on the list.
So, here are the test results shown by the ASUS A7V600 mainboard:
VIA KT600 Reference board
DFI LAN PARTY (nForce2)
Business Winstone 2002, Score
Content Creation Winstone 2003, Score
3DMark2001 SE, Score
3DMark03, CPU Score
PCMark2002, CPU Score
PCMark2002, Memory Score
SiSoft Sandra Int RAM Buffered Bandwidth
UT2003, dm-antalus, 1024x768x32
Serious Sam SE, The Grand Cathedral, 1024x768x32
* The results of this test should not be compared directly as the testbed featuring the VIA KT600 reference board had a different hard disk drive.
Yeah, ASUS A7V600 doesn’t offer any spectacular performance. Far from it. This mainboard was slower than both nForce2-based product (which is natural) and the KT600 reference board. Although the failure is not catastrophic, it doesn’t add any good feelings about the mainboard. We should also admit that with the BIOS version 1001 the performance was much lower, in particular, we failed to reach 15,000 score in 3DMark2001 SE. Having reflashed the new BIOS version 1005, I managed to improve the performance quite noticeably. Therefore, I have some hope that ASUS may push it higher in future BIOS versions. As it is now, the performance of ASUS A7V600 is even below the average.
So, you have just taken a look at the ASUS A7V600 mainboard, the first KT600-based mass product to enter our test lab. Frankly speaking, I can’t call this solution good. The mainboard is slower than the reference board from VIA and is practically devoid of any overclocking potential (at bus frequencies above 200MHz). Good innovations like Q-Fan and Instant Music are not free from minor drawbacks, too. I don’t list the memory-related problems here, as I consider them to belong to the chipset rather than the mainboard. They need further detailed examination. And they are going to receive it in our upcoming reviews.
On the other hand, if you just want an average mainboard for less money, this one may do. Its functionality can satisfy an undemanding user (I don’t think that the lack of FireWire support is a critical thing). The price of the product – about $85 – may help it find a way to the customer’s heart, especially among ASUS aficionados.