- Board Layout
The GA-7VTXE mainboard uses a 1AGP/5PCI layout. While it is nice to have left off the ACR/CNR slot, it was a bit disappointing to not have the sixth PCI slot on the board. The KT266A chipset has support for six, and it's just a shame to not utilize the full potential of it. Also consider that once you realize that the first PCI slot is pretty much useless (it shares an IRQ address with the hungry AGP port), then you'll see the need for that last slot.
The chipset used in this motherboard is the tried and true VIA KT266A. It has been proven time and time again as one of the best performing chipsets for the AMD Thunderbird and AthlonXP processors. While the Northbridge (top) didn't have any active cooling, I noticed no problems with stability. The VIA VT8233 Southbridge (bottom) offers the standard fare that would be expected with this chipset choice such as support of four IDE devices, support of up to six PCI devices, and built in sound capabilities using the AC'97 CODEC.
Have you ever been in the middle of a BIOS update and then had it fail for some reason? Or how about getting that most recent email from your best friend only to find out that you've been infected by some new virus that completely blows away your BIOS. It's not too hard to come up with any number of reasons for something like Gigabyte offers us; namely their Dual BIOS.
The way it works is simple. If you have a corrupted BIOS, there is a second chip mounted on the board that has the most recent GOOD version on it. When you discover that you have a problem, you just shut the system down, and then boot up again. When the memory testing screen appears, you hit F1 to enter the Dual BIOS/Q-FLASH area of the system. There, you will have options to boot up from the secondary BIOS chip and keep on going just as if nothing had happened.