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Reviewed by: Stephen Waits [07.23.01]
Manufactured by: GigaByte


Tuning the 7VTX

It seems that Gigabyte is out to make things easy with the 7VTX, first they have a foolproof BIOS updating technology, and now they're going to make overclocking easy for the masses. While the BIOS of the 7VTX isn't the most tweakable when it comes to your overclocking options, this will only upset the hardcore users. That doesn't seem to be the audience that Gigabyte is going for with this board, though. The audience they are targeting, I think, is the casual user that's hear about this overclocking thing, but isn't quite sure how to do it.

The nice thing is, the casual user doesn't have to have a clue how to overclock with the 7VTX, Gigabyte's EasyTune will do it for them. EasyTune is Gigabyte's answer to bringing overclocking to the masses, which is odd, since usually overclocking isn't something that's generally encouraged by motherboard manufacturers. Sure, they include options to let you overclock, but they tend to want you running your system within its specs.

EasyTune is a little software program that loads up on your system tray, and lets you either auto configure your system for 'optimal' performance, or lets you adjust the front side bus yourself. Unfortunately, this is really all EasyTune lets you do, which is a bit constraining for all you tweak-happy users out there. However, for Joe user, this makes overclocking a less daunting task.

Auto configuring EasyTune is pretty cool, it starts cranking on your bus until the system crashes, and then reboots with the last good front side bus. Unfortunately, my 1.2GHz TBird doesn't have a lot of headroom, and EasyTune maxed out rather early. Since EasyTune doesn't let you adjust your CPU voltage, or multiplier, there's really not much you can do to really get your clock speed up. But, for the casual user, something this easy is certainly a nice touch.

It makes noise

As you noticed in the spec listing, the 7VTX has a Creative chip on board to handle sound. With 5 PCI slots, it's not like Gigabyte really needs to throw the sound chip on there to save space. The chip isn't a part of the Via chip, either, it's just something extra that Gigabyte's thrown on.

I tend to like the idea of some on board options, sound being one of them, in certain situations. On board networking would have probably been more useful to include, but this Creative chip, which supports 4 speaker output, is pretty nice. Sound quality wasn't quite up there with my SB Live! (whose quality is admittedly not amazing), but was certainly enough for gaming and playing MP3s, which sound like crap anyway.

I'm not a huge 3D sound aficionado, so I really didn't miss the lack of the latest EAX support on the simple Creative chip. Hey, the on board sound is a freebie, so I didn't expect much. Unless you're an audiophile, 3D sound junkie, or have some really nice speakers hooked up to your PC, the on board sound with the 7VTX is likely adequate for your needs.

Is it stable?

After 36 hours of Prime95, with the CPU maxed out, and Quake 3 running in the background, I'd have to say the 7VTX is stable. Stability isn't something that's necessarily guaranteed when using Via chipsets, so this is nice to see. I've found Via to generally be an all or nothing experience when it comes to chipsets - your board works, or it doesn't. In this case, I'm happy to report that this particular Gigabyte board did work, without a hitch, and continues to run without failure under heavy usage.

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