K7M Athlon Motherboard - Page 7
So how does the motherboard
do in this arena? Well,
I can safely say that with my existing system, there were no
problems at all with my SBLive!!, ATM network card and
V2-SLI cards. However,
there were problems running it stably on my Creative SDR
32MB GeForce as compared to the ASUS V6600 GeForce sample I
received. In fact, on
monitoring the Creative Annihilator newsgroups, you would at
once notice the numerous “hot” discussions on Athlon
compatibility with the Creative GeForce card as a whole.
Perhaps it may be useful to dwell on this topic
In summary, Nvidia and AMD
have acknowledged that there is a problem with running
reference designed GeForce cards at AGP 2X and above on
Athlon motherboards. The
inherent cause of this has been diagnosed to be an AGP bus
strobe signal, which is highly prone to noise and needs to
be stabilized to run without hiccups on Athlon motherboards.
Unfortunately, the fixes lie mostly in hardware where
it involves either a change to the AMD 751 chipset or an
addition of an onboard capacitor on the motherboard.
So with the ASUS K7M, this
is no exception. However,
strangely enough the ASUS V6600 does run perfectly fine on
the K7M (without any hangups).
On closer inspection (after laborous counting of
onboard components), I did notice that 2 additional
capacitors were added onto the V6600 (near its AGP slot)
that distinguishes it apart from Creative’s rendition.
The pictures below indicate what I mean.
Creative. Bottom: Asus) Compare the two, you will
notice the difference in capacitor counts.
Creative. Bottom: Asus). Can you tell the
After consultation with
Creative, it seems that the 2 additional capacitors on the
V6600 would assist to stabilise the strobe signals but in so
doing, would have voided Nvidia’s specs and potentially
result in problems running the card at AGP4X in the future. So this doesn’t promise to be an ideal solution too.
Hence, this explains why the V6600 is stable on the
K7M, whereas the 3D Blaster GeForce isn’t.
As of writing, Nvidia has
just issued new drivers that limit the card at AGP1X on
Athlon motherboards, which circumvents this problem for
reference boards. This
was verified to work very well with the K7M with minimal
performance drop for the current batch of games.
Nonetheless, if you’re in line for a GeForce and an
Athlon motherboard config, it would be wise to wait for a
new batch of motherboards to arrive with the hardware fixes
in place first, before proceeding.
Even if you need to proceed with such a config, I
don’t foresee you running into any nightmarish problems,
as much as I went through prior to the patched drivers being
ain’t a GeForce anyway. So
what’s the conclusion?