Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra - Page 2

..:: GA-7VAXP Product Package ::..

As soon as we opened up the box when it arrived, we knew we were looking at one of the best bang for your buck KT400 motherboards on the market. If memory serves me correct, the GA-7VAXP Ultra’s package could quite possibly be the largest that has ever graced our presence here in the MBReview testing lab. Since I really have no idea where to start since there is such an incredible amount of items included in the package, here is a quick rundown. First off, the GA-7VAXP Ultra comes along with a large orange sticker that displays the motherboard layout, along with the locations of each of the jumpers, and the various headers. We saw a similar sticker included back in our GA-8IEXP review, and it is surely a nice inclusion for any user. The GA-7VAXP Ultra also comes with the usual fold out instruction guide that will send you step by step through building your PC to get things up and running, yet another nice feature.

As far as external expansion brackets go, the GA-7VAXP Ultra could easily fill up your PCI slots if you so chose to utilize each of the available expansion brackets. Yes, there is indeed that many. First off we have the GC-SATA card. This card is equipped with two rear SATA connections, along with a rear SATA power connector. On the “front” of the card, there are two more SATA connectors along with a Molex power connector. To complete the SATA package, Gigabyte also includes a Molex adapter for those power supplies without the proper SATA device power connectors. This adapter allows for use of two SATA devices. There is also a single SATA cable included in the package of the GC-SATA card. The next expansion bracket we come across is the three-port IEEE1394a bracket. Each of these ports has their own connector on the motherboard as we’ll see later in the review. The next expansion bracket is for USB 2.0 support. This bracket is outfitted with four USB 2.0 ports and requires two connectors on the motherboard for use of all four ports. The last expansion bracket is for the onboard audio. This bracket provides support for rear and sub/center channels for your speaker system. It also features the S/PDIF digital out connector, and the RCA connector. All in all, we have four, yes four expansion brackets!

The remainder of the GA-7VAXP Ultra’s package includes items such as two Serial ATA cables, the GA-7VAXP Ultra user manual, a SATA RAID Function manual, a Promise RAID Function manual, a special rear I/O bracket to allow for the positioning of the rear I/O ports, one lengthy floppy ribbon cable, three ATA/133 ribbon cables, and of course the driver / software CD. Many times in the past we have seen manufactures throw in support for RAID, yet they always seem to skimp out on the cables they provide in the package. Needless to say with two Serial ATA cables and three ATA/133 cables, Gigabyte has clearly supplied everything you’ll need for the GA-7VAXP Ultra.

If you read our review of the GA-8IEXP a few months back, you may remember that we were initially unimpressed with the included user manual that was provided by Gigabyte. It ran over several areas very nicely, but if you wished to learn more about the BIOS you had to go online in order to find out about settings. To quote myself, “The user manual that is included with the GA-8IEXP is rather poor as it fails to cover any of the real BIOS settings.” Well, the GA-7VAXP Ultra manual does not face the same plight as did the GA-8IEXP’s. The manual that is included with the GA-7VAXP Ultra clearly goes over the BIOS settings is great detail, and still retains all of the detailed setup instructions that the GA-8IEXP manual featured. Gigabyte also includes nicely detailed instruction manuals for setting up both a regular RAID Array, and a SATA RAID Array through two separate manuals.

The driver / software CD houses the drivers and software for the KT333 and KT400 based Gigabyte motherboards, so if you’re looking to find a driver, this would be the place to do it. When you first insert the disc into your CD-ROM, the main window will pop up right to the driver install window. Here, you simply click which drivers to install and you’re good to go. The next window that’ll be important is the Utilities window. Here you’ll be able to install all of the third party software, and Gigabyte’s own software onto your system. The included software suite is very nice, and unlike the last time, I was able to get the Easy Tune overclocking program to work. One of the nicer inclusions within the software package is that of Norton Internet Security. This software package includes the likes of Norton Anti-Virus, Personal Firewall, Parental Controls, etc. Gigabyte has also chosen to include their Windows-based BIOS writer, along with a basic system monitoring utility. Overall the Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra comes along with nothing less than an exceptional package.

..:: GA-7VAXP Feature Set ::..

The GA-7VAXP Ultra doesn’t skimp out on features; in fact it matches the exceptional package. This motherboard is the new king of the hill for both package quality and amount of features, for the time being. The GA-7VAXP Ultra comes along with a Realtek 8100BL Ethernet 10/100Mb LAN Controller, Promise PDC20276 RAID controller, Realtek ALC650 6-Channel Audio Codec, Silicon Image Sil3112A SATA RAID Controller, VIA VT6306 IEEE1394a Controller, along with support for USB 2.0 and other items through the KT400 chipset. Let’s take a better look at each of these chips, and then head on to the motherboard layout.