Abit AI7 865PE Motherboard - HotHardware

Abit AI7 865PE Motherboard

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ABIT AI7 865PE Motherboard Review
The i865PE board with "µGuru"

By: Jeff Bouton
December 18th, 2003


When it comes to overclocking an Intel based system, no processor has shown more potential than the Pentium 4-C.  More specifically, Intel's Pentium 4-C at 2.4GHz has proven to have a ton of headroom, with many user's hitting 3.2GHz with stock cooling and the right motherboard.  With increased bus speeds and advanced overclocking features in today's performance motherboards, access to a processor's multiplier is proving to no longer be a major factor.

Today, we are going to take a look at an affordable Intel based motherboard that offers a good selection of features at a great price point.  The Abit AI7 is an 865PE based motherboard with great features, high-end performance and a lot of overclocking options to tweak the board to its limit.  With a well equipped BIOS and ABIT's "µGuru" processor, the AI7 shows a lot of promise and should be a great match for our Pentium 4-C.  Let's get started and see what ABIT has in store for us this time around.
 

Features of the ABIT AI7 865PE Motherboard
Features and Functionality


Processor
- Supports Intel Pentium 4 /Celeron CPU (Northwood)
- Supports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology
- New power design for Prescott CPU
- Front Side Bus: 800/533/400MHz

Chipset
- Intel 865PE / ICH5-R
- Supports Dual Channel DDR 400 Memory
- Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI) & FMB 1.5

Memory
- Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
- Supports 4 DIMM Dual Channel DDR 400 memory (. 4GB)

AGP
- Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)

Serial ATA RAID
- 2 channels Serial ATA 150MB/s data transfer rate with RAID 0 / 1

LAN
- On board Realtek 10/100 LAN

USB 2.0
- 8 ports USB 2.0 Supports 480 Mb/s data transfer rate

IEEE 1394
- 3 ports IEEE1394 Supports 400 Mb/s data transfer rate

Audio
- On board Realtek ALC658 6-channel CODEC
- Automatically Audio Jack Sensing
- S/PDIF Input & Output Interface
ABIT Engineered Technology
-SoftMenu? Technology
-ABIT uGuru Technology
-ABIT EQ?
-FanEQ?
-ABIT OC Guru
-ABIT Audio EQ
-FlashMenu?
-Black box

Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x AGP, 5 x PCI slots
- 1 x Floppy Port supports up to 2.88MB
- 2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100 Connectors
- 2 x SATA 150 Connectors
- 2 x USB 2.0 headers
- 2 x IEEE 1394 headers
- 1 x CD-IN, 1 x AUX-IN
- Front Panel Audio Connector
- CPU/Classis/Power/FAN1/FAN2 FAN Connector
- 20-pin ATX Power Connector
- 4-pin ATX Power Connector

Back Panel I/O
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse
- 1 x Printer Port, 1 x COM port
- 1 x S/PDIF In connector, 1 x S/PDIF Out connector
- 1 x Audio connector (For Front Speaker, Line-in, Mic-in)
- 1 x Audio connector (For Center/Sub, Surround Speaker)
- 2 x USB 2.0, 1X IEEE 1394 Connector
- 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector

Miscellaneous
- ATX form factor (305 x 245 mm)
- Hardware Monitoring ? Including Fan speed, Voltages, CPU and System temperature


The Bundle:

The ABIT AI7 is complimented by a solid bundle with a complete collection of hardware, software and documentation.  The system comes with three guides, a Quick Guide, User's Manual and Quick Installation Guide.  The Quick Installation Guide is a brief document that covers installing the board, CPU and identifying each of the board's components.  The User's Manual is a more thorough guide that covers the board's functions, features and setup.  The Quick Guide focuses on the ABIT µGuru software that integrates with the processor of the same name that syncs up with the BIOS for access to monitoring and overclocking options from within Windows.  The Driver CD included all of the necessary drivers for the board including Chipset, LAN and Audio.

Click to Enlarge

The board also included a number of items to help ensure an easy, quick installation.  The board came with a single floppy and 80-pin IDE cable as well as a single SATA cable and Y Molex to SATA power adapter.  The package also included an I/O shield and USB bracket to attach to the additional USB headers on the board.

One of the main selling points of the AI7 is the ABIT µGuru software, which allows for a number of key functions to be accessed from within the Windows interface.  The software is comprised of several separate components, all of which are easily accessible from the taskbar.  The first module is the ABIT EQ which is a monitoring tool for observing the system's key voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures.  The software can be configured to sound an alarm if any of the components reach a specific threshold.  This is useful when overclocking, monitoring each critical component and possibly uncovering an item that would cause instability due to temperature or voltage fluctuations.  The next component is the ABIT OC Guru which allows for the adjustment of the FSB on the fly from within Windows.  This module has two sections based on how aggressive the system memory is set.  In Turbo mode, the system FSB can be set using a slider and then simply clicking apply.  In F1 mode, the most aggressive setting, the interface provides the same FSB slider and also offers access to the CPU, AGP and DDR voltages.

ABIT µGuru software

The next module is the ABIT FlashMenu, which allows for easy BIOS updating from within Windows.  With a single click the software can locate the latest BIOS available, download it and update the CMOS.  This was a nice little application that worked great.  The ABIT Audio EQ works with the on-board audio to allow easy adjustment of the audio output and advanced settings. The ABIT FanEQ allows for the adjusting of the system fan to throttle as needed, minimizing power consumption and system noise.  Lastly, the ABIT Blackbox feature is a hardware cataloguing package that can auto detect the system hardware and record important information after a crash which can then be submitted to ABIT for analysis.

The ABIT FlashMenu was the most useful as it made locating and updating the BIOS as easy as can be.  From a monitoring standpoint, the ABIT EQ was useful in fine tuning the overclocking of the system and letting us know if anything was running too hot or if voltages were not within proper tolerances.  We found the ABIT OC menu a little flakey and it didn't work at all, until we flashed the BIOS with the latest update.  The ABIT Blackbox never auto detected any of the board's components as it was supposed to, requiring us to manually enter the system information.  If an error occurred, it's great to know that you can submit certain information to ABIT for analysis, but the real kicker is Abit's response time getting back to you with assistance, which is ultimately what the user needs if they are sending the information in the first place.  We can't pass judgment here but we're hopeful that this would only improve Abit's ability to resolve issues with their product.
 

 

The Board and The BIOS

 

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