From a layout point of view, the GA-7VRXP is very plain-jane. A 1/5/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) configuration is what we see added to most server and workstation platforms. While this is a bit limiting, you will see later on that the onboard features make up for this slight oversight.
In terms of layout space, the PCI and AGP slots are very clean. Gigabyte have also included a sticker that is located on the boards PCI slots when you first get it that this board is capable and compatible with NV17 (GF4 MX) video cards, so no large condensers or capacitors will be in the way with this board.
At the helm of the GA-7VRXP is VIA's new KT333 Northbridge and VT8233A Southbridge. You will notice on the Northbridge the CD revision, this is the earlier revision of the KT333 from VIA. Though earlier in revision, we found no stability or compatibility errors with this chip. Controlling the rest is the new 8233A Southbridge. This Southbridge offers all of the same features as the original 8233 but adds native ATA-133 IDE. So now you don't need external IDE controllers to take advantage of ATA-133
With the move towards USB 2.0 but having no Southbridges with ingegrated 2.0 controllers, VIA has introduced the VT 6202 USB 2.0 controller chip. This is the same controller that you can now find on retail USB 2.0 cards in Harvey Norman and Dick Smiths (if you are in Australia). Gigabyte have decided for your expansion pleasure to add this beauty to their board. VIA's chip costs a lot less than NEC's own USB 2.0 controller and works at almost the same speeds. This new controller chip also show no signs of the VIA/USB problems that plagued the VT8233 Southbridge.
While the VIA Southbridge does support ATA-133 IDE, it doesn't support RAID, so Gigabyte have added the Promise ATA-133 IDE RAID controller for all the RAID freaks. Personally I prefer Highpoint RAID to Promise but there are quite a few people out there who prefer Promise to Highpoint; either way this board has RAID, so that's all that matters.
Realtek 10/100 Fast Ethernet
As I stated in the layout area, you would see why we only have 5 PCI slots on the board. So far we have IDE RAID and USB 2.0, now we have PCI 10/100 Fast Ethernet provided by Realtek's latest RTL8100BL chip. This chip is budget orientated but provides the same level of performance as SMC's 1211TX network cards. So for Broadband internet or home Ethernet, you have your LAN connection already worked out.
Creative Hardware Sound
While AC'97 audio is standard on most boards today, Gigabyte have listened to the masses and have done away with the AC'97 audio on their high end boards and have adopted the Creative SB PCI128 sound processor chip. This chip is a Lite version of the SB PCI128 and only offers 2 speaker support. CMI 8738 would have been nicer but for 2 channel sound the SB PCI128 does the job just as good.
No Gigabyte high end board would be complete without Dual BIOS. In case you don't know what dual BIOS is, here is a bit from our previous review that state what Dual BIOS is.
Now this is the ultimate in safeguards for BIOS... Gigabyte has placed the Dual BIOS on this board for us all. This technology allows for a permanent read-only BIOS chip to be soldered onto the motherboard. This chip contains a release BIOS for the board on it. If you bad-Flash your main BIOS, or if a virus does get into your BIOS, you can erase the main BIOS and use the Backup BIOS to re-Flash the main BIOS chip, making your PC 100% bootable again. While both BIOS chips are soldered on, we normally give this a mark down, but since we have two BIOS' we have no need to remove one. Very good idea Gigabyte.
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