Asus A7V333 Motherboard

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The Asus A7V333 KT333 Motherboard
Asus Perfects The VIA Flagship Athlon Line

By, Robert Maloney
August 13, 2002

Asus is one of those hardware companies that has earned a reputation for reliability. As with most motherboard vendors, they started producing motherboards, but then branched out to video cards, as well as modems and Ethernet cards. In my time building and testing systems, I often found that Asus provided some of the best performance boards usually combined with some of the latest and greatest features. A few of them even found their way into my own personal system like the P3V4X, which was up until recently my favorite (Pentium 3) board of all time. Thus, I was pleased when their latest offering, the A7V333, showed up in the Hot Hardware labs in need of some testing.

The A7V333 is based on the current VIA chipset offering, namely the KT333, supporting AMD Socket A processors, AGP4X, and PC2700 or DDR333 memory. As we have seen, the KT333 provides good performance, but yet not really that much better than the previous chipset, that of the KT266A. To convince users to upgrade their systems, or to simply get the new reseller to look their way, companies have to market their boards in a way that catches the customer?s eye with features and flashy advertising, both of which we found here. The box has a whole lot going on with fireballs, ice crystals, you name it. And yes, it even lists the board and some special features, these being the KT333 chipset, RAID ATA133, Asus Post Reporter, Asus C.O.P, and Asus MyLogo. It also says ?Designed for eXtreme Performance? which for one, hopefully is the last XP reference I hear for a while, and two sets up some great expectations and not that of the Dicken?s kind (look it up on Google if you don?t get it).

Specifications / Features of the Asus A7V333
A Full Featured KT333...

 
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Chipset Type

  • VIA KT333 Northbridge

  • VIA VT8233A Southbridge

CPU Socket

  • Socket A for Athlon XP/Athlon/Duron

  • 266/200 FSB

CPUs Supported

  • Athlon XP/Athlon/Duron processors

  • 600MHz to 2GHz +

Form Factor

  • ATX

Memory Description

  • Three DDR DIMM Sockets

  • Max. 3Gb unbuffered PC2700/PC2100/PC1600

  • non-ECC DDR SDRAM

BIOS Description

  • 2Mb Flash ROM

  • Award BIOS

  • Supports DMI 2.0

Expansion Slots

  • One AGP Pro slot supporting 1.5V 4x AGP Card

  • Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots

IDE Description

  • Two UltraDMA 133/100/66 IDE ports supporting two IDE drives each

IDE RAID

  • Promise 20276 ATA133 RAID controller supporting RAID 0,1

Onboard Audio Features

  • C-Media 8738 6-channel PCI audio controller

Onboard Media Reader Supports Security Application Smart Card interface Also supports Memory Stick and Secure Digital Memory Cards

Back I/O Ports

  • 2 USB 2.0 ports

  • 2 USB 1.1 ports

  • 1 DB-25 Parallel port

  • 2 DB-9 Serial ports

  • 1 PS/2 Mouse port

  • 1 PS/2 Keyboard port

  • 3 audio jacks: line-out, line-in, and mic-in


Internal I/O Connectors

  • 1 connector for 2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports

  • 1 connector for additional serial port

  • 1 connector for game/MIDI port

  • 4 internal audio connectors (CD-in, Aux-in, Video-in, and TAD)

  • 1 4-channel audio output connector

  • 1 S/PDIF-in connector

  • 1 S/PDIF-out connector

  • 1 connector for IrDA interface

  • 1 Smart Card interface

  • 1 Memory Stick interface

  • 1 Secure Digital Memory Card interface

Health Monitoring Description

  • Monitors CPU/system temperature and overheat alarm

  • Monitors voltages and failure alarm

  • Monitors CPU/chassis/second fan speed and failure alarm

  • Automatic chassis/second fan on/off control

  • Opened chassis alarm

Dimension Description

  • Four layer PCB, ATX form factor 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm (12" x 9.6")


In the box, I found the motherboard, driver CD, and interface cables for not only the hard drive and floppy drive, but for the Firewire port as well. This Firewire port is provided on a separate bracket included in the package. The driver CD contents were: VIA 4-in-1 version 4.37 drivers, drivers for USB 2.0, the on-board sound, and the Promise ATA133 RAID controller, another version of the manual in PDF format, Asus PC Probe, and finally Winbond Voice Editor. There was another bracket that had a game port on it as well as two extra USB ports (one can never have enough of these it seems these days). Also included were a few extra jumper caps and a backplate to match the layout of the interface ports on the back. Missing, however, was an additional sound cable and/or bracket to make use of digital output for the 6-channel audio. It would have also been nice to see cables and drives to take advantage of the smart card headers on the board, although these were an option that I don?t think many users are quite ready to take advantage of.

   

A brief description of the VIA KT333 Chipset:

The VIA Apollo KT333 is VIA?s latest offering, providing the best performance option for AMD Athlon and Duron owners. It has the honor of being the first VIA chipset to feature DDR333 memory offering 25% more memory bandwidth to the CPU. It also will still support DDR266/DDR200 memory, for those looking to upgrade one piece at a time. Other key features are AGP 4x support, 6-channel on-board audio, as well as ATA-133 support, which is integrated into the VT8233A South Bridge. Here is a block diagram showing the key components of the KT333:

Some other features provided by Asus for the A7V333 are:

Asus C.O.P. Overheating Protection

A feature on motherboards that is becoming more and more standard these days is some sort of overheating protection. Following suit, Asus has provided what they call C.O.P, short for CPU Overheating Protection. Using Asus?s hardware monitoring mechanism and the AMD Athlon XP thermal pin design, the C.O.P. technology will automatically shut down the system when the CPU temperature reaches a set temperature. This prevents damage from occurring to the CPU and the motherboard.

Asus Q-Fan

For those users who are tired of the constant, high pitched noises emanating from your PC, Asus provides Q-Fan technology. It is designed to adjust fan speeds according to the system load, essentially slowing them down when the system is not being used. As loud as my Dragon Orb is, however, I was not inclined to slow it down since we all know that Athlons are known for running too well when super toasty. This option can be easily enabled or disabled from within the BIOS.

Asus Post Reporter

Here something really innovative. So much so, that when I first heard it, I was taken aback and rebooted just to hear it again. Asus has provided the Post Reporter, which will alert you if something is wrong with the system, such as a loose DIMM or defective CPU fan. Going one step further, they even provide a means to record your own error messages using Winbond Voice Editor. Now you can have your PC say all the things you always wanted it to say when things are going wrong. At the very least, it is much easier to understand that beep codes or reading LEDs.

Asus My-Logo

A new, interesting feature found on the A7V333 is Asus My-Logo, which lets you use your own pictures or those provided on the CD during the POST, allowing savvy users to even further customize their systems. The standard, preloaded logo looks like this:

The BIOS, Layout and Quality 

 
 
Tags:  Asus, Motherboard, board, A7, AR, V3

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