Chaintech 7VJL Layout
Did I Mention Lots
The 7VJL is
an average sized board, measuring 12" x 9." Given the
space afforded, Chaintech did a very neat job of laying out
each component. Seven 2200 microfarad electrolytic
capacitors surround the Socket 462 interface, leaving plenty
of room to install a heat sink. We also noticed that
Chaintech implemented a three-phase power solution,
indicated by the six MOSFET transistors mounted on the
board. As AMD increases the frequency (and
consequently power dissipation) of the Athlon XP, the robust
power circuitry should ensure that the 7VJL remains
reliable. Chaintech placed the ATX power connector on
the upper right-hand portion of the board as to avoid
obstructing airflow around the processor.
Most of the
KT333 boards that have come through the lab utilize active
cooling to ensure the North Bridge doesn't overheat.
ABIT's KX7-333 and MSI's KT3 Ultra-ARU are two examples.
Chaintech deviates from the heat sink/fan combination and
includes an oversized, golden heat sink covered with a gaudy
ring. The overall effect seems to be the same - the
7VJL was stable throughout testing. Even still, it
would have at least been reassuring to see thermal
paste between the heat sink and KT333 North Bridge.
184-pin memory slots allow for up to 3GB of DDR memory in
either PC1600, 2100, or 2700 flavors, depending on the
budget. Of course, the memory slots are also colored
an obligatory yellow to match the copious amount of gold.
midst of several "extras," the 7VJL doesn't include an
onboard ATA-133 RAID controller. Many other high-end
boards do, in fact, include RAID capabilities, so it is a
little surprising that Chaintech wouldn't follow suit.
Nevertheless, the VIA 8235 South Bridge accommodates up to
four IDE devices conforming to the ATA-133 standard.
USB 2.0 has also been added to the new South Bridge for up
to 480Mbps of data transfer.
panel houses traditional PS/2 connectors for the mouse and
keyboard along with two serial ports and a parallel printer
port. VIA's VT6103 physical layer device delivers
10/100 Ethernet capabilities through the RJ-45 connector on
the back panel. The C-Media CMI8738 audio processor
drives the three analog outputs found on the back of the
board. Two USB 2.0-compatible ports round off the
motherboard's rear, which of course is blatantly gold.
The BIOS of the 7VJL Motherboard:
is targeting enthusiasts with the 7VJL and has equipped the
motherboard with a suitable BIOS to adjust a myriad of
settings. In fact, an entire property sheet is
dedicated to front side bus frequencies and voltages.
With an Athlon XP installed, the board permits bus settings
between 133 and 250MHz, in 1MHz increments. If DDR
memory is inhibiting overclocking, voltage can be increased
from 2.5v to 2.65, 2.8 or 2.95v. Similarly, the same
voltages can be applied to the chipset itself. If the
AGP device is at fault, voltages are adjustable from 1.5v to
1.65, 1.8 or 1.95v. Finally, processor voltage settings are
available from 1.775 to 2v in .025v increments.
common memory settings are available for those who enjoy
fine-tuning. Alternatively, select 'SPD' to allow the
RAM module's Serial Presence Detect to automatically choose
the settings. Integrated hardware monitoring keeps track of
power supply voltages, two fan speeds and the processor
temperature through a thermal diode. For some reason,
few manufacturers have taken advantage of the diode built
into the Athlon XP, including Chaintech.
much left to desire from the 7VJL's Award BIOS, however, it
would be nice to see documented PCI and AGP dividers,
especially in light of rumors that AMD will be manufacturing
333MHz front side bus processors. Performance
enthusiasts will certainly want to explore the extra
performance provided by increased bandwidth (which means the
KT333 chipset would need to be overclocked).
Front Side Bus
many voltage and memory BIOS settings, it takes a while to
get the 7VJL tuned. The most aggressive way to
overclock an Athlon is to unlock the processor, lower the
chip's multiplier (via another BIOS setting) and increase
the front side bus frequency. More commonly, though,
front side bus settings alone are changed. You can
imagine that overclocking becomes more difficult as the
multiplier increases and each extra megahertz applied to the
bus raises the final frequency by 11, 12, 13 or more
megahertz. Our Athlon XP 2100+, with it's 13x
multiplier, runs at 1.73GHz in stock form. Increasing
the FSB to 140MHz yielded 1.82GHz, nearly 100 extra
demonstrates a respectable gain after overclocking.
However, during an actual "real world" performance
benchmark, like Quake III, you'll only see a more modest 2.6
frame per second increase. Crank the resolution from
640x480 to 1024x768 and that difference will disappear.
If you'd prefer
not to get your hands dirty in the BIOS, Chaintech offers
its own Windows-based overclocking utility as well.
Sandra 2002, Quake III and 3D Mark 2001 SE