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Gigabyte motherboard GA7DX or GA7DXR
pbwu Aug-17-01 10:30 AM
Hi Larry,

I want to make a choice between GA7DX and GA7DXR motherboards both from Gigabyte in terms of scalablity, reliability, ease to maintain, and, of course, performance, etc. I am using Athlon 1.4GHz 266MHz FSB CPU. Here I list the specs for both of them. I am not sure I can understand all of them, so please help me to judge.

My questions are:

1. What does the difference of FSB working frequency mean here? Because CPU has 266MHz FSB, but none of them can work as quickly as 266MHz, is it a sensible solution? I am sure it is, but could you explain to me? What is the difference made by 7DXR that supports even higher frequency (150MHz)?

2. Is it essential to have RAID support on PC? Usually we do this kind of things on mainframe machines only. So 7DXR has an extra RAID support chip set. Does it add any advantage?

3. 7DXR has one more memory slot, seems better than 7DX. But note that AMD actually suggests use unbuffered memory, how can 7DXR can only support up to 2G Bytes, instead of 3G Bytes, with 3 slots?
Is there any trick in choosing memory chips?

4. Is there any advantage brought by the extra UDMA 66/100 bus master of 7DXR?

5. 7DXR has one more fan connector, I think it is because it supports higher clocking. This question goes with the first one.

6. I haven't used dual BIOS before. Is it good?

7. Overall, what is your suggestion?

Many many thank.

Patrick

GA-7DX

AMD® 761 AGPset
PROCESSOR
Socket A for AMD Athlon/Duron200/266MHz FSB processors
95/100/103/105/110/115/133 MHz FSB
Auto-detects CPU voltage

CHIPSET
AMD-761 north bridge
VIA 686B south bridge
AC97 codec Creative CT5880 sound

MEMORY
Supports up to 2GB of either PC2100/DDR266 or PC1600/DDR200 SDRAM
2 DDR DIMMs of 184-pin sockets
Supports 72bits ECC type DRAM integrity mode

SLOT
1 x AGP slot supports 2X/4X mode & AGP 2.0 compliant
5 x PCI slots support 33MHz & PCI 2.2 compliant
1 x AMR (Audio Modem Riser) slot

I/O
UDMA ATA 100/66 bus master IDE ports on board
1 x FDD, 2 x COM, 1 x LPT, PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse on board
1 x joystick, 1 x line-in, 1 x line-out and 1 x MIC on board
2 x USB ports on board, 2 x USB ports by cable (cable optional)
IrDA TX / RX header

POWER
ATX power connector
Power-on by LAN, RTC, Modem & Switch
Power-off by Windows R 95/98/Me/2000/NT shut down & Switch

FORM FACTOR
ATX form factor, 4 layers PCB ( 31.2*23.20 cm)

H/W MONITORING
Auto speed down and alarm when CPU overheat or fan failure (OS independent & driverless)
3 fan power & speed detection connectors
Stop CPU fan in suspend mode
System health status detect & report by BIOS
H/W detect & report Power-in voltage, CPU voltage and CMOS battery status

BIOS
AWARD BIOS, 2M bit flash ROM, enhanced ACPI feature for PC98/Win98/WinMe/ Win2000 compliance, Green, PnP, DMI,INT13 (>8.4GB) & Anti-Virus functions
IDE#0~#3, SCSI, LS120, ZIP & CD-ROM bootable
AC recovery ON/OFF control
Auto-detect & report system health status
Supports @BIOS Live Update utility.

OTHER FEATURES
Supports Suspend-To-RAM (STR)
Supports Wake-On-LAN (WOL)
Supports Internal / External Modem Ring On
Supports USB KB/MS Wake up from S3
Supports EasyTune III

GA-7DXR

AMD 761 AGPset
PROCESSOR

Socket A for AMD Athlon /Duron 200/266MHz FSB processors
95/100/103/105/110/115/133/..150* MHz FSB
Auto/1.5V/1.525V/1.55V...1.85V(15 scales / 0.025V per scale) CPU Voltage adjustable
Supports CPU multiplier 5.0/5.5/.../12.5

CHIPSET
AMD 761 north bridge & VIA 686B south bridge
Creative CT-5880 sound chip & AC97 codec
Promise ATA100 w/ RAID chip

MEMORY
Supports up to 3GB DDR SDRAM ( 2GB unbuffered memory )
2.5V/2.7V/2.9V DDR Memory voltage adjustable
3 DIMMs of 184-pin DDR sockets
Supports either PC1600/DDR200 or PC2100/DDR266 DDR memory
Supports 72bits ECC type DRAM integrity mode

SLOT
1 x AGP Pro slot with an extra power-in socket
1.5V/1.6V/1.7V AGP Pro voltage adjustable
5 x PCI slots support 33MHz & PCI 2.2 compliant
1 x AMR (Audio Modem Riser) slot

I/O
2 x UDMA ATA100 IDE RAID connectors for RAID 0 and RAID 1
2 x UDMA ATA 66/100 bus master IDE ports on board
1 x FDD, 2 x COM, 1 x LPT, PS/2 Keyboard, PS/2 Mouse on board
1 x joystick, 1 x line-in, 1 x line-out and 1 x MIC on board
2 x USB ports on board, 2 x USB ports by cable (cable optional)
IrDA TX / RX header

POWER
ATX power connector
Power-on by LAN, RTC, Modem & Switch
Power-off by Windows® 95/98/Me/2000/NT shut down & Switch

FORM FACTOR
ATX form factor, 4 layers PCB ( 30.5*24.4 cm)

H/W MONITORING
Auto speed down and alarm when CPU overheat or fan failure (OS independent & driverless)
4 cooling fan connectors
Stop CPU fan in suspend mode
System health status detect & report by BIOS
H/W detect & report Power-in voltage, CPU voltage and CMOS battery status

BIOS
Dual AWARD BIOS, 2 x 2M bit flash ROM, enhanced ACPI feature for PC98/Win98/Win2000/WinMe compliance, Green, PnP, DMI, INT13 (>8.4GB) & Anti-Virus functions
IDE#1~#4, SCSI, LS120, ZIP & CD-ROM bootable
AC recovery ON/OFF control
Auto-detect & report system health status
Supports DualBIOS & @BIOS

OTHER FEATURES
Suspend-To-RAM (STR); Supports Wake-On-LAN (WOL)
Supports Internal / External Modem Ring On
Supports USB KB/MS Wake up from S3
Provides 4 fan power connectors
Poly fuse for keyboard over-current protection
Supports EasyTune III

DRIVER
AMD service pack utility
Creative PCI sound driver
Hardware monitor utility


1. RE: Gigabyte motherboard GA7DX or GA7DXR
lbyard Aug-17-01 03:09 PM
In response to message 0

>1. What does the difference of
>FSB working frequency mean here?
>Because CPU has 266MHz FSB,
>but none of them can
>work as quickly as 266MHz,
>is it a sensible solution?
>I am sure it is,
>but could you explain to
>me? What is the difference
>made by 7DXR that supports
>even higher frequency (150MHz)?

The bus is double pumped and moves data at 266 Mbits per second (omn each line) on a 133 Mhz bus. It sends data on both the leading and trialing edges of the clock (strobe) pulse. That’s what they mean by 266 MHz. The 150 Mhz option may be for future processors. You may be able to overclock the existing processors, but I have not done it and do not recommend it (they may also be overclocked by increasing the multiplier).

>2. Is it essential to have
>RAID support on PC? Usually
>we do this kind of
>things on mainframe machines only.
>So 7DXR has an extra
>RAID support chip set. Does
>it add any advantage?

See http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/buildcom/socka/10.htm for my experiences. Others may have additional comments on RAID motherboards. I would not buy one unless I really needed RAID, which most people do not need for the average PC.

>3. 7DXR has one more memory
>slot, seems better than 7DX.
>But note that AMD actually
>suggests use unbuffered memory, how
>can 7DXR can only support
>up to 2G Bytes, instead
>of 3G Bytes, with 3
>slots?

Good grief! Who needs more than 2 Gbytes of memory? Who needs more than 256 Mbytes of memory. Answer: almost no one for the lifetime of the motherboard (say three years).

>Is there any trick in choosing
>memory chips?

Yes. Buy quality, name-brand memory from a quality vendor.

>4. Is there any advantage brought
>by the extra UDMA 66/100
>bus master of 7DXR?

Yes, if you are going to install more than four drives or use a CD-RW drive frequently (e.g., you run a music studio). There are also disadvantages resulting from more complexity, drivers, and interrupts, as pointed-out in the above link.

>5. 7DXR has one more fan
>connector, I think it is
>because it supports higher clocking.
>This question goes with the
>first one.

No big deal at all. One can always purchase a fan that connects directly to the power supply.

>6. I haven't used dual BIOS
>before. Is it good?

Dunno, probably.

>7. Overall, what is your suggestion?

http://duxcw.com/digest/guides/buymb/intro.htm (needs an update)

My turn… Why just Gigabyte?

Larry



2. RE: Gigabyte motherboard GA7DX or GA7DXR
pbwu Aug-17-01 04:09 PM
In response to message 1
Hi Larry,

Thanks for the clear answers. Now I make something further clearer.

> Good grief! Who needs more than 2 Gbytes of memory? Who needs more than 256 Mbytes of memory. Answer: almost no one for the lifetime of the motherboard (say three years).

I am using 2 GBytes memory and it seems still insufficient in my work. I am building this PC for my homework, so I configure it as half a giga bytes RAM, cannot be less. I will use it to run my program that can last days or even weeks (optimisation simulation for integrated circuits).


>Why just Gigabyte?

I don't know many brands of motherboards. I think either ASUS or Gigabyte will be the choice (referring to motherboard group test in Personal Computer World November 2000 issue ). What I need to from motherboard is 1.4GHz 266MFSB DDR memory UDMA 100 more PCI slots for scalability Good documentation good reputation etc. Given these requirements, I can only find 4 boards:
Gigabyte GA7DX (recommended by AMD for 1.4G Athlon)
Gigabyte GA7DXR (I thought it is an enhancement based on 7DX, but probably wrong)
Gigabyte GA7VTX (it uses cheaper VIA KT266 chipset; 7DX/7DXR uses AMD 761 chipset)
ASUS A7V266 (KT266 chipset, but very new, just announced, not available in the market still)

Any suggestion for other choices? I would like to know and have a look.

Thanks again.

Patrick



3. RE: Gigabyte motherboard GA7DX or GA7DXR
lbyard Aug-17-01 05:59 PM
In response to message 2
You are corresponding with an old slide rule (undergrad) EE who did grade work using programmable calculators (e.g., digital filters) and punched cards… Depending on the cache’s design and size of the cache’, too much memory can slow down a computer… I’ll have more to say about motherboards when I start looking them over in detail again for my next upgrade. Right now it looks like the new SiS 735 chipset is the performance winner as far as Socket A motherboards are concerned. The upcoming 2 GHz P4 with RDRAM will probably out-perform anything AMD has got for what you are doing. Overall, I have had good luck with Abit, MSI, and EpoX motherboards. I have heard many times that Iwill and Soyo make very good boards. I have had bad luck at one time or another with motherboards from nearly every major manufacturer; however, I don’t recall first-hand experience with Gigabyte boards. Some Gigabyte problems have been discussed in these forums. Search in the left menu. Over the years I have had several notable problems with Asus boards. Larry

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