by May 11, 2002 0 comments

The Asus A7N266 is almost completely geared for gamers and people who use their computers for resource-hungry recreational purposes, watching DVDs, DivX movies and MP3/DivX encoding. 

The nForce chipset supports AMD processors and uses DDR RAM. Its North Bridge is nVidia nForce IGP-128 having a 64/128-bit DDR memory controller integrated with a GeForce2 MX GPU for the graphics. Besides the powerful onboard graphics, it has an AGP slot for accommodating faster AGP 4x cards. You can assign up to 32 MB RAM for the on-board video through the BIOS. One first for this chipset is a dual-memory controller. So if you put two DDR memory modules, then the chipset establishes two independent connections to them, thus effectively doubling the DDR’s bandwidth to 4.2 GB/sec.

The board’s South Bridge is the nVidia MCP, which communicates with the North Bridge at 800 MB/sec, the maximum bandwidth required for
PCI.

This chipset is a dual-memory controller–it doubles the DDR’s bandwidth 4.2
GB/sec
  

ASUS A7N266 
Price: Rs 15,000
Meant for: Gamers/recreational users
Features: Nvidia nForce
chipset, DDR memory, Socket
A, dual memory controllers,
integrated GeForce2
MX, six-channel integrated sound, digital sound output 
Pros: Excellent performance and features 
Contact: Rashi Peripherals, Mumbai.
 Tel: 022-8260256—59.
 E-mail: 
aruns@rptechindia.com
 
RQS

On to the board’s features. It supports UltraDMA/100 for burst transfers of 100 MB/sec from ATA devices. The motherboard supports six USB ports, but comes with provision for using four. Two of these are on-board, while the other two are present on a separate module. There’s another USB header on the board for adding two more USB ports. There are five PCI and one ACR (Advanced Communication Riser) slots. ACR is similar to CNR found in most boards these days. One hot feature of the board is its onboard sound, which is taken care of by a C-Media CMI8738 audio controller. It supports six-channel audio, digital output through SPDIF, and several advanced functions.

There wasn’t much to complain about on the performance front either. We tested the motherboard both with its onboard video, a GeForce2 GTS and a GeForce3 based card. The remaining configuration consisted of 256 MB DDR-RAM, IBM Deskstar 7200 rpm HDD and an AMD Athlon XP 2100+ processor. Several benchmarks were run, including Quake III Arena, Serious Sam, 3Dmark 2001 for graphics and gaming; tests for encoding DiVX and MP3; plus of course, Content Creation and Business Winstone 2001 for testing high-end and productivity applications performance. Compared to boards with other chipsets, it does provide a slight advantage in the performance, as can be seen from the test results done on a Gigabyte GA7DX board, which is based on the AMD 761 chipset. In Serious Sam and Content Creation Winstone, for instance, the nVidia board’s scores were about 6 and 3% higher. These tests were done using a single DDR module. If two modules are used, this performance will increase further, owing to the dual memory controller. 

Motherboard Graphic
Card

Quake3 
Arena (1024x768x32  resolution)

Content
Creation Winstone 2001
Business
Winstone 2001
3D
Mark 2001
Serious
Sam (640x 480×16 (resolution
MP3
encoding (secs)
DivX
encoding (secs)
Asus
A7N266
GeForce3 192.8 67.6 61.1 7488 136 26 183
Asus
A7N266
GeForce2 104.8 67.4 58.9 4161 133.8 26 183
Asus
A7N266
Onboard 36.9 65.5 58.6 1633 85.1 26 185

The Bottom Line The real advantage of this board lies in its features, especially the onboard sound and graphics. On the performance front, it gives a slight advantage over other boards. The board’s drivers’ installation under Win 98 SE is slightly troublesome, and we had to set it up twice before we got it right. Two games, Messiah and Star Trek New Worlds are included but the games package could have been better.

Anuj Jain at PCQ Labs

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