Checking Out Six New AMD Motherboards - Page 8

.2"> Not to be confused with the K7VTA3 v.1.x (which is based on the VIA KT266 chipset), the 2.x version of this little no-frills board is as much of an outcast from this bunch as the ALi-powered Soyo K7ADA. While its overall scores were in line with the other KT266A, it was thwarted by other problems.

Its layout is crowded and inconvenient, with the CPU socket encroaching upon the three DIMM sockets. Theres room for oversized rectangular heat sinks, but users of oblong Orb-style coolers have a scant few millimeters of clearance. The board features a generic, software-controlled AC97 audio CODEC, five PCI slots and, of all things, a CNR slot.

Installing the K7VTA3 was simple enough, until it came to connecting the case wiring. The connector layout doesnt match the diagrams presented in the manual: while we found the proper pinouts, theyre not labeled on the motherboard and theyre surrounded by connector blocks that arent even in the book. Perhaps ECS didnt update the documentation when it updated the board.

Meanwhile the little board completely bucks the jumper-free industry trend. Youll need to set jumpers for the FSB frequency, the BIOS voltage, and even to toggle power to the extra USB ports. Meanwhile, there are only two three-pin power sockets for cooling fans.

In other words, this is not an overclockers board.

On the happy side, once we got the little pink motherboard (yes, its pink) configured and installed, it proved to be flawlessly stable. Its gaming and productivity performance was sub-par compared to the rest of the crop, but it held its own in bandwidth testing, placing third in the SiSoft Sandra SSE Integer Streaming memory benchmark.

Furthermore, its price is right. Its easy to score a K7VTA3 online for $75 plus shipping. DIYers certainly wouldnt want one for themselves, but its a decent, cost effective board for building up a web surfing board for Mom, or for putting to use as a server on a SOHO LAN.

ECS K7VTA3 v.2
Price: $75-100
Pros: Very stable; nice price; its pink
Cons: Too many jumpers; documentation doesnt match board; low end performance; its pink
Score: 6/10