As for the motherboard, what can I say? It's the very popular Asus A7V133. As the successor to the successful A7V KT133 board, the A7V133 adds a couple of new features, mainly the 133Mhz bus speed availability that helps to push this 1.3 to 1.6Ghz. May I also mention that this is not a review of the separate components so if you're looking for a review to tell you more about the board, I suggest you read the A7V133 article over at AnandTech. Although the A7V133 was a pricier choice than the other motherboards they could've used, I honestly think they chose it because it is one of the few KT133A motherboards that offer 1.85+ voltage settings and also because it is known to be a bit more stable than the competition, especially when operating at the 133+MHz FSB range. Also, the fact that the motherboard has quite a lot of space around the CPU socket for a big HSF is a good gracing. The Thermalright SK-6 might not fit some motherboards that are capacitor-heavy. The onboard ATA/100 controller and the ATA/100 IDE-RAID controller means you'll have plenty of space to expand you storage and also add a couple of hard disks in the famous RAID 0 (although RAID 1 and RAID 0 + 1 isn't supported). It's good to know Gen-X Tech didn't go dirt-cheap and use crap motherboards like some barebones companies do. On second thought, it wouldn't be beneficial to use generic parts on a system like this because if it fails, it'll cost them more money to replace it than going with a brand name, good motherboard.
The motherboard comes with the DIPswitches pre-set to a multiplier of 12X and the FSB of 133MHz along with the voltage modification to boost it to 1.95v. Usually, I wouldn't recommend putting that much power into a processor and that 1.85 is all you will ever need. But that's not the case. In our tests, we found that this CPU would not boot at 1.85 and that it needed 1.95v to stay stable through all the tests. When it was stable, it was very stable, impressive, but we'll get to that a little later on. The package that the barebones comes in includes everything that was originally in the motherboard box including drivers, manual, even the case sticker. Aesthetically, the board is mediocre, my one big complaint is the placement of the IDE channels which are on the side of the motherboard. A Voodoo5 5500 would overlap the IDE channels and the cables. Also, the problem with motherboards with IDE channels so far away from the top corner of the board is that you might need longer cables if you have a larger than normal case to reach your optical drives.
But all in all, according to AnandTech, the Asus A7V133 is the best performing KT133A motherboard and that should say something in itself. Lets move onto other aspects.
Not much to say in this category since the system comes fully assembled. Actually, mine came with the heatsink already mounted which I don't think is a good idea with a HSF as heavy as the SK-6. Gen-X Tech told me that the heatsink and processor weren't meant to be mounted while shipping. Anyway, all you probably need to do when you get this system either way is just mount the parts and add the optical and hard drives along with video and sound card. The case makes for a difficult installation (at least to me and my spoiled outlook towards cases). The case doesn't have side panels but rather the entire exterior plate casing lifts off just like those old Compaq's or IBM's. Aside from that, getting inside the case is relatively easy. 2 clear-bladed large 80mm fans cool the case adequately. The Thermalright SK-6 is a great heatsink but just a mess to get on. The clips were more trouble than they're worth and tool-free installation was only a dream for me.
As I tossed in a 4x4x24 HP CD-RW and a GeForce2 Pro with an SB-Live, I was wondering if this system will even boot. Sure enough it did without much of a fuss. Just o be safe, I did not use a hard drive with a pre-installed copy of Windows 2000, instead I installed it on that computer to minimize incompatibilities. Through the installation, I didn't notice a difference in installing speeds, which wasn't anything to worry about since once you get past 800Mhz, the installation process stops getting faster. Now it depends more on the optical drives and the hard drives.
Added component list:
- HP 8250i 4x4x24 CD-RW
- IBM 75GXP 30GB HD
- MSI GeForce2 Pro 822
- Creative Labs SBLive! Value
- D-Link Ethernet
With this specific set of hardware, there were no problems at all with installation. Once Win2k SP2, IE 5.5, and the Via 4-in41 were installed, everything worked without a hitch. Now that installation is done, lets go onto benchmarks and temperatures.
>> Temperatures/Potential Logic Errors?