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Posted: April 29, 2002
Written by: Tuan Huyhn
Gigabyte is no stranger when it comes to PC components. Being a first tier manufacturer of main boards as well as a huge OEM company, itís no reason Gigabyte is a very well known manufacturer of components. There boards have always been very reliable and distinguished by the trademarked Gigabyte blue PCB.
When VIA launched their KT333, Gigabyte was one of the first manufacturers to rush out with a board sporting VIAís latest and greatest chipset. Though being one of the first manufacturers with a KT333 board, Gigabyte was stuck with a lot of KT333CD revision Northbridge, thus there are two versions of their KT333 board, one with the CD revision, and one with the CE revision KT333. The KT333 has become extremely popular and has been adopted by nearly every motherboard manufacturer that has produced VIA KT boards in the past. Though the KT333 supports DDR333, it hasnít shown much speed improvement over the KT266A.
Today weíll be taking a look at the Gigabyte 7VRXP v1.0 which uses a KT333CD chipset, though Iíve been assured that the only difference between the 7VRXP 1.0 and 1.1 is the KT333CE chipset, other then that, features remain the same, with the exception of a 1/5 divider for 166 MHz operation. Weíll also compare the 7VRXP to itís KT266A counterpart the 7VTXH+.
Like the majority of the Gigabyte boards, the 7VRXP is built upon a blue PCB which has seemed to become a Gigabyte trademark. As you see, the board is laid out quite nicely with plenty of features. In terms of PCI expansion, the 7VRXP comes equipped with 5 PCI slots, which is plenty considering it has onboard Ethernet, which eliminates the use of one PCI slot right there.
Talking about the onboard Ethernet, the 7VRXP integrates a Realtek RTL8100BL Ethernet controller, which is as good if not better then add-in PCI Ethernet cards. As for audio, rather then integrating the CMI8738, the 7VRXP integrates a Creative SB128 type controller for SPIDF and rear audio output, the front channels are still provided by the onboard Sigmatel ACí97 chip, which is the little square IC on the right of the Creative audio controller.
On the bottom right corner of the board, youíll most likely first notice the orange USB headers for USB 2.0 and the black header for USB 1.1. Youíll probably also notice the two identical BIOS chips, the 7VRXP features Gigabytes patented Dual BIOS system which makes it possible for you to screw up a BIOS flash and still not be left with a dead motherboard.
On the IDE controller side of things, the 7VRXP features 4 Channels of ATA133 goodness provided by the VIA VT8233A south bridge as well as the Promise PCD2076 RAID controller which also functions as an ATA133 IDE controller with the flip of a dip switch. Youíll also notice the placement of the power connector, which is located conveniently right above the floppy connector, out of the way of the processor fan. Thereís also place for a smart card reader, compact flash/smart media reader right below the floppy drive connector, but the reader is not included in the package.
Atop the North bridge youíll once again find the generic passive heatsink with the Gigabyte logo thatís found its way on nearly all Gigabyte AMD boards, but since the KT333 runs fine with a passive solution, the passive heatsink is more then enough. The area around the processor is nearly cleared, with the exception of the capacitors in the left corner, which makes it nearly impossible to install a large heatsink such as an Alpha or Swift Tech MC462A.
The 7VRXP utilizes an AMI BIOS, which in my opinion isnít as good as the Award/Phoenix BIOS setup in terms of ease of use. Nonetheless, the 7VRXP offers VCORE settings, FSB adjustments up to 166 MHz in 1 MHz increments (revision 1, no idea on revision 1.1, it should go higher then 166 MHz), DRAM timing settings, but doesnít provide any DRAM voltage settings, which makes this board unattractive to the hardcore overclockers. Since the settings are scattered all around the BIOS menus, I chose to neglect the screenshots.