Abit IC7-G vs. Asus P4C800
A tale of two Canterwoods

By, Dave Altavilla
April 29, 2003


Abit's IC7-G was delivered in typical Abit flair, with swank packaging and lots of add in peripherals to sweeten the deal.  Abit also took the Canterwood layout and dressed it up a bit, fleshing out many of the innate capabilities of the new Intel ICH5 Southbridge, as well as a few supporting enhancement components.

Up Close and Personal With The Abit IC7-G
Canterwood Abit style

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The kit contains all that you would need to complete a new i875P based system, with literally all of the various cabling requirements covered quite well.  Abit is appealing to the enthusiast segment for sure with this bundle, providing rounded cables for standard ATA100/133 connections, as well as Serial ATA cables.  It was also very refreshing to see two Serial ATA power cables in this bundle, something we have yet to see from many motherboard OEMs that are building SATA capable boards.  If that weren't enough, Abit also includes one of their "Serillel" Serial to Parallel ATA adapters, should you want to make the jump to the SATA interface but don't have one of the currently hard to come by SATA Hard Drives.

Layout wise, the board is neat and clean and follows very much the same general landscape of the Intel reference design, with a few pleasant modifications and enhancements along the way.  Abit has elected to go with "active" cooling on the i875P Northbridge chip, with a futuristic looking bright blue fan on top of their heat-sink.  However, we aren't all that confident that this solution provides superior "heat transfer" from the chip itself.  The heat-sink itself is thin and smallish and although the fan keeps it quite cool, conduction from the chipset core perhaps isn't as good as the larger, heavier sinks we see on other motherboards these days.  Heat transfer is as important as heat dissipation or radiation and as such the smaller metal sink underneath this fan, seems a little too meager.  If Abit were to use a larger sink underneath this fan, it would be ideal.  The rest of the board is simply top notch design, including a 4 phase MOSFET power solution, with plenty of large 105C Capacitors, for stable, clean power.

There are several other bonus add-on features of this board, including the addition of the Silicon Image SiL3112 SATA RAID Controller (underneath the IC7-G sticker), to complement the SATA RAID capabilities of the Intel Southbridge.  This board offers a total of 4 SATA channels and two PATA channels.  The ICH5 SATA channels support RAID 0 functionality (Intel is rumored to be offering other RAID modes in future driver releases) and the SI Controller offers RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 configurations.   Abit also dropped in a Texas Instruments driven FireWire Controller, for three total available channels, for you video editing buffs, as well as the Intel Pro 1000CT Gigabit LAN controller, for full GigE network connectivity.  Sound-wise, Abit's AC '97 6 channel solution, is augmented with lots of output connections for center and rear channels, as well as dual SPDIF outputs.  Finally, there are 4 USB 2.0 ports on the back plate and another 4 available off internal motherboard connectors.  Abit also included the back slot connector plate to bring the additional USB ports out from the motherboard.  All in all, the IC7-G is a really nice offering from Abit, from a feature-set standpoint.

Abit IC7-G BIOS Setup
SoftMenu - The original

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In our opinion, the BIOS setup menus are truly, the "soul" of a motherboard.  In this case the Abit IC7-G definitely has soul.  This BIOS is driven by the latest Award Software BIOS, with standard issue Abit "SoftMenu" innovations.  You can tweak pretty much anything, from processor, to memory and AGP, to your hearts delight and with a wide range of voltage controls.  You can take the processor all the way up to 1.9V, DDR DRAM up to 2.8 and AGP voltage up to 1.7V.  Then of course there are the usual memory divisor and timing settings, with 1:1, 5:4 and 3:2 available as derivatives off the memory bus. These provide decent flexibility when you are taking bus speeds well beyond standard spec... and you most likely will, if you are working with board.  Did we mention FSB selection, in 1MHz increments up to 300MHz?  Yes sir, this BIOS is ready to rock.


Up Close and Personal With The Asus P4C800 Deluxe