Features of the Chaintech Apogee 7VJL
Packaging and Contents
Chaintech put together a rather attractive packaging as well as useful content selection. In the box you will find one motherboard (this does come in useful), one extremely well detailed and easy to read and understand manual, one Dual CD case storing all the CD's you need to get your board up and running in Windows, two Rounded IDE Cables, one Rounded Floppy drive cable, a front panel access port box and Soyo's Body Theatre Headphone set. Whew, that's a lot to get through.
One of the most interesting things was the inclusion of rounded IDE cables. This is definitely a super addition as it eliminates those old bulky looking flat IDE cables. These cables are designed for ATA-66/100/133 operations so you will have no problems with them running your drives at their full potential.
Chaintech has used a 1/6/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) layout for their board to allow for the most amount of expansion possible. Coloring of the DIMM, CPI and IDE/FDD connectors is a yellow/gold color to stand out against the dark brown PCB making this board look very attractive. In all honesty, the physical placement of some of the connectors is just plain bad. The Power connector is extremely well placed; it is right in the upper right hand corner keeping the ATX cables well away from the CPU. The IDE connectors are lower down on the board than I would have liked to see them but are acceptable. The placement of the FDD connector is just not on really. Placing it down the bottom of the right of the board means you need an extremely long FDD cable if your 3.5" bays are quite high up on your case (and believe me, most ATX Full tower case 3.5" bays are). This however is the only flaw we could see in the layout, everything else was well placed.
VIA KT333 Chipset, Today meets Tomorrow
By the heading you are probably wondering what we mean by today meets tomorrow. Well it's this simple. Controlling the CPU and memory interface is the VIA KT333 chipset offering DDR-333 memory support, 200/266Mhz FSB support and AGP 4x support; as we stated, this is today's technology. What we are referring to in the tomorrow sense is the implementation of a brand new Southbridge that was intended for the VIA P4X333 and P4X400 motherboard. That's right, Chaintech has used the new VT8235 controller hub. This new controller hub is designed from the original 8233A with ATA-133 IDE support. The big changes come in with a new 3-controller (6 port) USB 2.0 system built in (yes the 6206 USB chip is built into this baby) and the new V-Link 2 connection at 533MB/s to the Northbridge. This allows for higher rates of transfer between the North and Southbridge Though VIA has stated that V-Link 2 is really here at the moment for testing and getting it all ready for Serial ATA. That's right, VIA is supporting serial ATA like we thought they would.
Sound, and a great Deal of it
Chaintech has taken the smart Road when it comes to onboard sound. While VIA has upgraded the AC'97 audio Codec to rev 2.2, it is still a pathetic sound. Chaintech has not even bothered with looking at the AC'97 audio and have done what many have done, used C-Media's CMI8738 sound processor. This sound is far superior to any AC'97 audio Codec and is about $10 USB more expensive per chip than it is to fit a AC'97 audio Codec chip to the board.
Another interesting feature is the Body Theater sound set that Chaintech has included. These are basically very high quality ear phones that give you a real 3D feeling that no other earphone set can. The only way to describe it is WOW.
C-Box; Chaintech's Front Port connectors
Chaintech has added a front panel connection box for your connection conveniences, which I personally think all boards should come with, but that's just me. On the C-Box you get four USB ports (these connect to the headers on the motherboard for the VIA USB 2.0). This allows you front access for USB cameras and other USB devices you need to unplug and plug in all the time. You also get two audio ports. These ports connect to the front Audio header located on the motherboard. When installed, the rear MIC and Speaker ports are disabled and the front MIC and Speaker ports are enabled, especially good if you are going to use the Body Theatre.
The Style is all there
Chaintech has added even further to the style of this board by plating the connectors on this board in gold to match the Heatsink, PCI slots and DIMM slots, very nice job indeed.