Physical Features and Layout

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The layout of the board left a little to be desired. Gigabyte has been using the AGP retention clip for a while now, and their version of it has consistently caused the same problem: a run in with the SDRAM retention clips. When the retention clips are folded out, they are nearly touching the retention clip and this makes it difficult and annoying to push them back. If you are changing memory while you have a video card in place, especially if it is longer and the PCB extrudes past the retention clip, you may have no choice but to remove the card temporarily. While this isn’t a major problem, the fact that they haven’t fixed it in the many revisions of the clip bothers me.

Gigabyte 7ZXR (2.2) KT133A Motherboard Review - Motherboards 15 Another problem I see is in the jumbling together of all the IDE ports and the floppy connector. Installation of IDE cables is a very simple matter when on my test bench. But when attempting to do this ‘in-case’ it will surely be a hassle if you use all IDE connectors. To make matter even worse, if you do not have a full-tower case, the addition and removal of IDE devices will be difficult as the IDE ports will probably be hidden by one of your hard drives in an above 3.5” bay. I would have liked to see the IDE connectors, or at least the IDE3 and IDE4 ones, moved below, closer to the bottom of the PCB.

Similarly, the placement of the various dip switches that control CPU settings (which we will cover later in overclocking) are badly placed. Scattered across the PCB in seemingly random placement, the sets of dip switches are often set far away from their corresponding silk screened instructions (which are very important, as the manual doesn’t have these in it). The switches for FSB and clock ration are pushed into the same area as the jumbled IDE ports, making adjustments after installation even more of a pain than they should be. The Gigabyte 7ZXR motherboard does have ample room for heatsinks on it. The surrounding components are set far enough away that you can probably fit just about any Socket-A cooler on it without a problem. I used the Thermaltake HSF, a couple TaiSol HSFs, as well as a Foxconn without a problem.

Gigabyte chose not to use a fan on the KT133A chipset on their motherboard. This can be a mixed blessing. For those who like to push their FSB up very high (which may not be possible on the board anyway), the lack of a good cooling solution on the chipset may cause you to have to action into your own hands and setup the chipset cooling your self. The lack of a readily available fan connector around the chipset may damper your cause, however. But, without a chipset fan, Gigabyte was able to drastically reduce the noise level of the system. I can’t tell you how many of those little fans have faltered on my Abit and Asus boards, created a high-pitched whine that rivals many large HSFs.

The on-board sound of this motherboard is powered by the Creative CT5880 chipset, which is very closely related to the Sound Blaster PCI 128 line of sound cards. Because of this, you can expect this motherboard to have better sound than the rest of the industry standard AC’97 motherboards. Those who are power users, of course, can disable this on-board device and install your own sound card if you choose.

This motherboard also includes the Dual-Bios setup, started and invented by Gigabyte. This prevents any virus that attacks the system bios from crippling your computer. By entering the Dual-Bios setup you have an option to back up a bios to the 2nd chip and restore it from, etc. This is a good idea that I am surprised other manufacturers have implemented yet.

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