AMD Duron and Gigabyte's GA7ZM KT133 Motherboard

The AMD Duron and Gigabyte's GA7ZM KT133 Motherboard - Page 2

The AMD Duron
Gigabyte's GA-7ZM KT133 Motherboard

Compact Economy and Performance

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla


Installation and Setup
You could put this thing in a "bread box".

Now, let's look at this board in its natural habitat...

Thanks to our friends at MicroX-Press for supplying the Duron.  They have them in stock now if you are looking for one of these new low cost, "no compromise" little gems. 

There is no need for a lot of detail on the installation of the board.  We paired it with a GeForce 2 card, some Corsair PC133 SDRAM and a WD UDMA66 drive.  The system booted right up and we had no issue installing the latest VIA 4.23 inf files and ATA66 Controller drivers.  We then decided to install a little program we received from Gigabyte not long after we first received the board.

Overclocking The "Easy" Way with The GA-7ZM
Easy Tune III - Who needs "Softmenu"?  Gigabyte doesn't...

At first glance, the GA-7ZM doesn't exactly strike you as an over-clocking friendly motherboard.  Sure,  there are additional FSB settings beyond the specified 100MHz. (200MHz. DDR) Front Side Bus.  However, there is no CPU voltage tweaking available and the method for setting the Front Side Bus, while better than a bank of jumpers, is still a very mechanical process via dip switches.  On the other hand, Gigabyte just launched a new software utility that is a saving grace for not only this board but most other motherboards in their product offering.

Easy Tune III ( we never saw or knew that there was even an Easy Tune 1 or 2, by the way) allows the user to optimize, test, set and save new Front Side Bus settings from the comfort of the Windows environment.

As you can see, Gigabyte has provided a stylish "cockpit" sort of interface that allows you to set the FSB, save and reload it every time Windows boots.  With the GA-7ZM, we were able to increase or decrease the FSB almost in 1MHz. increments.  Specifically we went from 100 to 110 in 1MHz. increment, then 111, then 113, 115 etc...  This will be most likely dependant on the variety of PLL Clock Driver that is on the Gigabyte board being used. 

The fastest speed we could get the Duron to with full stability, was what you see in this shot.  Prior to using Easy Tune, we could only get the GA-7ZM to 683MHz. and still boot Windows.  We are not sure what Easy Tune does that is different than setting the dip switch block but it allowed for a much higher over-clock with the GA-7ZM.

At 735MHz., we had to set the AGP setting in the BIOS to 2X down from 4X, in order to run our Gaming Benchmarks.  We aren't sure why the AGP bus got so flaky at the 4X setting but at 2X the entire system was totally stable.  As you may be aware, the miniscule performance boost that AGP4X produces on the current round of 3D Cards, is negligible.  Dropping down to 2X mode was perfectly acceptable to us as a trade off for the additional CPU horsepower we gained.  This may or may not have been an issue with the GA-7ZM itself.  We will be testing Easy Tune on other Gigabyte boards with other graphics cards shortly and should have further detail on this.

The software also has an "auto optimize" feature that will scan the Clock Generator and CPU for you and select what it feels is the most stable and optimized speed for your processor.  In this case, our 650MHz. Duron was set to 683MHz.  We preferred the "Advanced Mode" manual setting of 735MHz. that we achieved, however.

Finally, set the software to "Auto Over-clock" and it loads itself upon Windows Startup every time you boot.  All told, Easy Tune III is a great little utility that provides the "tweakability" of H.Oda's "SoftFSB" but with a much more intuitive and easy to use interface.  You don't even have to know what model of Clock Generator is on your motherboard, so long as it is a Gigabyte Motherboard.  Yes, we tried it with other manufacturers boards and got the standard "sorry we don't support this board" message.  If only CPU voltage settings were adjustable from this interface.  Here is the extensive list of Gigabyte Motherboards that Easy Tune supports and as you can see it is comprised of all recently released boards from the i815 to VIA Apollo.  You can also download Easy Tune III here as well.

With these new tools from Gigabyte at our disposal, we were free to concentrate on other numbers, the benchmarks.

Performance, Benchmarks and The Rating


Tags:  AMD, Gigabyte, Motherboard, T1, board, A7, AR, AM, and, K

Related content