The second generation of Athlon motherboards is finally upon us, but before we dive into one of the first members of this new class of Athlon motherboards, let's take a look at some of the advantages the second generation of boards to hit the market will hold over the handful of boards that launched with the Athlon or shortly thereafter:

  • 4-layer PCB designs resulting in lower overall costs and more manufacturer support
  • 133MHz memory bus speed support courtesy of the VIA KX133 chipset
  • AGP 4X support allowing for higher AGP texturing speeds and more triangles to be transferred over the AGP bus when used with AGP 4X graphics accelerators, also courtesy of the KX133
  • More overclocking options

Most of those features are a direct result of the release of VIA's KX133 chipset, while others, such as more overclocking options, are simply consequences of the demand of the market. We have learned quite a bit from the initial wave of Athlon motherboards: for one thing, there are some manufacturers who are very scared of producing an Athlon motherboard, much less publicizing it. Unfortunately, this trend will carry on, though not as badly, into the next wave of Athlon motherboards that hit the market. On the bright side, some new comers to the Athlon motherboard market will be promoting their Slot-A products just like any other motherboard, and among those is the 11 year old EPoX.

If you remember, EPoX had some of the first and the best VIA based Super7 solutions back during the reign of the K6-2 and K6-III as AMD's flagship CPUs. It only makes sense that EPoX should leverage their previous history with VIA to produce one of the first motherboards based on VIA's KX133 Athlon solution. Dating back to well before last year's Fall Comdex in Las Vegas, EPoX has been actively promoting their KX133 based design, which was just recently dubbed the EP-7KXA. A quick visit to their front page reveals that they are continuing to do so:

This active promotion and lack of shame when talking about the board is a very commendable act on the part of VIA, and luckily enough, while it's not the best, the 7KXA as a motherboard is just as praiseworthy.


Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface
Slot-A
Chipset
VIA KX133
VIA 371 North Bridge
VIA 686A South Bridge
L2 Cache
N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor
ATX
Bus Speeds
83 / 88 / 90 / 95 / 100 / 110 / 115MHz
Voltages Supported
1.50v - 1.80v (in 0.05v increments)
Memory Slots
3 168-pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots
1 AMR Slot
1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (2 Full Length)
1 ISA Slot (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)
AC'97
Unknown
BIOS
AWARD v6.00PG
The Good

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