Asus A7V266-E VIA KT266A socket A DDR

Thursday, December 13, 2001


Introduction

Asus has never been content to build motherboards like any other, and their newest creation - the A7V266-E - certainly maintains that tradition.

The A7V266-E is not only entirely configurable from within its BIOS (as well as via its on-board jumpers and Dip switches), but it also incorporates a great number of Overclocking functions, an integrated RAID controller, and a high-quality sound-card. In fact, the only reproach we have ever had for Asus' boards has been their targeting. Clearly, these boards are devices aimed at high-performance Overclocking fans, and not run-of-the-mill end-users.

Sound intriguing? Well then, let's skip the formalities, and get on to the review...

Characteristics of the Asus A7V266-E
CPU
Supports Socket A Athlon XP/Athlon/Duron processors
Chipset
VIA KT266A VT8366A + VT8233
Form factor
ATX
Expansion
5 PCI - 0 ISA - 1 ACR - 1 AGP Pro- 6 USB
Memory
3X 184-pin DIMM 3Gb DDR SDRAM PC1600 - PC2100
FSB
100Mhz to 250Mhz in steps of 1Mhz
Vcore adj.
1.80v, 1.825v and 1.85v
Vio adj.
2.5v, 2.65v, 2.75v and 2.80v
Audio chipset
C-Media CMI8738 PCI


Audio

The A7V266-E's sound-capabilities are graciously provided by a C-Media¨ CMI8738 audio-chip.

The CMI8738 supports 5.1 configurations, with six audio-outs, including a central base line.

In its standard configuration, the CMI8738 also supports the treatment of incoming and outgoing digital & SPDIF signals. Unfortunately, ASUS has not supplied the necessary optical in/out connectors with the A7V266-E that come as part of many other such motherboards.

From audio fidelity standpoint, the C-Media¨ CMI8738 leaves very little to be desired. It capable of supporting up to 32 polyphonic voices, EAX effects, and is compatible with both Microsoft DirectSound 3D and Aureal A3D.

In short, the C-Media CMI8738 offers great sound-quality that is far above and beyond that of the integrated audio circuitry of most chipsets - something that will be immediately appreciated by users.



Configuration

As with most Asus boards, configuration of the A7V266-E (or rather the CPU that is installed on the board) can either be done through the use of on-board jumpers and Dip switches, or through the BIOS functions. When we said that Asus isn't content to follow the pack, this is one thing we were talking about. While most manufacturers are content to provide users with one configuration method - jumpers or BIOS - Asus seems intent on providing as many options as possible, by implementing both systems.

Thus, users have the option of opting for a Jumperfree setup, wherein all configuration features are provided via the BIOS.

A Jumperfree setup is possible simply by insuring that jumper JEN is set to position 2-3, or else set to 1-2 for a jumper & Dip-based configuration.

The CPU Ratio switches, for their part, can used be used to set the CPU's clock multiplier value (who'd ever conceive of such a thing! heheh) to between 5X and 12.5X - a setting that can also be made from within the BIOS.

Elsewhere, the Dip-switch array labeled SYSCLK can be used to select an FSB frequency from a range of choices that includes 100Mhz, 133Mhz, and 140Mhz.

The PALO-Freq jumpers, on the other hand, are used only to insure compatibility with AMD Athlon/Duron processors using the Palomino core.

Jumpers JP1/JP2 can be used to select the VIO/SDRAM/Chipset voltage from a variety of choices that includes 2.5v, 2.65v, 2.75v, and 2.8v.

And, finally, jumpers VID1 though VID4 can be used to set the Vcore voltage to 1.07v, 1.75v, 1.80v, or 1.85v..

All these features, and others besides, are also faithfully reproduced within the BIOS, most of them within the "Advanced" menu.

Among the more interesting, we can include (the ability to):

  • Set the FSB to between 100Mhz and 227Mhz.
  • Set the memory-bus frequency to either 100Mhz or 133Mhz.
  • Adjust the Vcore voltage
  • Adjust the clock multiplier setting
  • Tweak various memory-timing settings

    ... and many others way too numerous to describe.

    Index:

    Next: Technical details.