Setup of the ASUS A7N266-E Motherboard
The layout of
the A7N266-E is very clean and well thought out. Each
component is positioned in a way that does not infringe on
any of the neighboring components of the board. For
example, the AGP Pro slot doesn't even come close to
interfering with the DIMM slots, a common issue we point
out regularly. The ATX power connector is
also placed in a way that there is virtually no chance it could drape over the HSF, impeding proper airflow across
the CPU. Along with the 1 AGP Pro and 5 PCI slots, the
A7N266-E comes equipped with an ACR-Slot for the ACR-A6CH
card included in the package. The add-on card not only
has the capability to output 6-Channel audio, but it offers
S/PDIF_OUT digital audio.
Two indicator lights are mounted
on the board, one adjacent to the ATX power to remind the
user if power is being provided to the board. The
second is mounted between the AGP Pro and 1st PCI slot to
indicate if an error exists with the AGP card installed.
Along with the two standard USB ports mounted on the rear of
the board, additional headers are included to allow for the
addition of 4 more USB ports.
An optional USB kit can be purchased with the board to take
advantage of this feature. The system comes with a
total of three fan headers for supplying the CPU and chassis
fans as well as any additional item you might want to add.
A block of jumpers are available on the motherboard for
up to 1.85v VCore and 1.7v
The Socket A has plenty of room
to accommodate an oversized heat sink/fan combo, an
important feature if overclocking is in your future.
We also liked to see that the Northbridge came with active
cooling attached to it, although after you read about our
overclocking experience, we wonder if they should have
planned active cooling for the Southbridge as well.
Along with what one would expect to see on the back of a
motherboard, the A7N266-E replaces one of the serial board
with the on-board video connection. If you are one of
the few people who might miss the second serial port, Asus
has included a serial dongle that attaches to a header on
the board and fits in one of the PCI openings on the case.
And let us not forget the integrated 10/100 Ethernet port.
The BIOS of the ASUS A7N266-E:
The A7N266-E came equipped with
a Phoenix BIOS which had a well balanced selection of
settings. Although its features might fall a little
short for the hardcore overclocker, this version allowed for
the adjustment of a number of settings critical for
achieving optimal performance. The BUS could be
adjusted in increments of 2-3 MHz. ranging from 100MHz. to
172MHz. Regardless of the system BUS setting, however,
the PCI BUS remains at a steady 33MHz., which should help in
maintaining a stable system when the system BUS is set higher than
What the BIOS lacks is any form
of voltage adjustment whatsoever. The voltage
adjustments are only available using the jumpers on the
board itself. If you want to bump up your BUS
to eke out a little more power from your system, great.
if you are hoping to hit the high-end of the overclocking
spectrum, you'll have to open the case to tweak the voltages. Regardless of the
settings available, we are going to give it our best shot
and see where the A7N266-E will peak after we cover the setup of the system.
Setup of the ASUS
The setup and installation of
the A7N266-E was as simple as it gets. The beauty of
this product is that once the board and other components are
installed, all you have to do is install Windows and
insert the setup disk. When the CD launches, click on
nVidia nForce Drivers and the board practically
installs itself. The one-step installation process
takes about a minute to install all of the necessary drivers
for the chipset, audio and video to run properly with the
operating system. The team at nVidia has done a
fine job at developing an intelligent, unified driver
package that makes installation virtually error-proof.
This was easily the simplest motherboard installation that
this reviewer has ever done, and there have been a few. Next,
we'll take a look and see what this board is capable of
doing when we start adjusting some of the overclocking
settings in the BIOS.
the ASUS A7N266-E Motherboards
Get On The BUS!
Since our Athlon XP 1800+
processor was not unlocked, we had to settle for overclocking
the system BUS only. This isn't a bad thing, but we
normally like to use the multiplier to determine how high a
board will go. Once you start using the BUS-speed
adjustment, it's hard to tell what causes the overclock to fail, the board or one of the
components attached to it. In the case of the
A7N266-E, we were able to reach a stable 143MHz. BUS
setting, increasing the output of our processor from
1.53GHz. to 1.65GHz., a gain of 8%. The next increment
on the BUS scale was 146MHz., where the system booted to
Windows, but would ultimately freeze during
benchmarking. In fact, once we attempted to run a
benchmark at 146MHz., I could feel the Southbridge chip heat
up just before the system locked. At this point we settled for a respectable 8% gain
at the default voltage and decided to see what kind of performance boost we could
expect. So let's get to the benchmarks!
Sandra 2002, Quake 3 and More!