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Soyo 7VMA PM 133 Motherboard Review

Soyo 7VMA PM 133 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: VIA has recently entered the integrated mainboard chipset market with the release of the VIA PM 133, a Socket 370 based chipset. This chipset is essentially a combination of the VIA Apollo 133A chipset coupled with the S3 Savage 2000 2D core and S3's Savage4 3D core.
 85% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Soyo Dec 10 2000   P. Masrani  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Soyo 7VMA

Gaming Performance

We must keep in mind that Quake 3 is a very intensive game in terms of memory bandwidth. Although the memory bus on our 7VMA was clocked 50% lower than the DFI CS65 SC, it was only 10 15% slower.

Integrated Graphics Performance

The Soyo 7VMA has an integrated graphics accelerator based on the Savage 2000 2D engine and Savage4 3D core. Its main rival, the i815 based boards, have an integrated graphics accelerator based on the i752. The i752 is basically a newer version of the i740 accelerator (which had its "fifteen minutes" a couple of years ago). All integrated accelerators are usually based on unified memory architecture, meaning that the system's main memory is shared both by the CPU and the graphics subsystem. Naturally, memory bandwidth is also shared which degrades both system (to an extent) and 3D performance.

Business performance degradation when using the integrated accelerator instead of a standard accelerator is quite small at low resolutions on low end processors (like our reference Celeron 566MHz). If we use a faster processor (a PIII 700 or better), then the 2D acceleration weakness of the integrated accelerator becomes more obvious. Nevertheless the integrated 2D on the PM 133 is more than enough for casual business applications. However, we did notice that the on board accelerator did not support 32 bit color desktop on resolution 1280x1024 or higher.

The integrated graphics accelerator found on all PM133 boards is superior to any Intel 815/815E board. Even a low end processor can be held back by the integrated 3D of an i815 board. Of course, all faster processors are held back by the integrated 3D of the i752 even at very low resolutions due to the poor triangle setup throughput. Hence, the i752 scales poorly with faster processors. In addition, the i752 does not support texture compression thus poor effective memory bandwidth becomes a major issue.

On the other hand, the PM 133 found on the 7VMA seems to scale much better with faster processors at low resolution. In fact, it can be considered as a viable 3D solution for some very basic 3D gaming. The Savage4 integrated 3D engine is by far a better solution then the i752. It has a much faster triangle setup, offers texture compression, better 3D quality and even 32 bit rendering. Because of these factors, the performance difference leans in favour of the 7VMA on faster processors. The following chart clearly indicates the same. On the following chart, we were able to get Soyo 7VMA scores with a 100MHz memory bus without stability problems. The scores are taken with sound disabled.

Though it is nothing to boast about, it still beats 3D performance of another integrated solution. Naturally, hardcore gamers do have the luxury of adding a high end graphics accelerator and and when desired.

Sound Quality

The Soyo 7VMA is equipped with a Sigmatel AC97 audio CODEC . This CODEC does not support A3D or EAX but it sounds good enough for any low/medium priced PC speakers. After listening to a number of tunes, I believe that most users will be pleased with the audio CODEC on the 7VMA. Audio reproduction was accurate and all frequencies ranging from bass to treble seemed to hit the mark. Surprisingly enough, there is very little noise. We had to turn the volume really high to begin hearing a bit of distortion. Of course, any audiophile or serious gamer should use a sound card instead of the supplied AC97 CODEC.

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Contents of Article: Soyo 7VMA
 Pg 1.  Soyo 7VMA PM 133 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Winstone Performance
 Pg 3.  — Gaming Performance
 Pg 4.  Overclocking and Conclusions

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