Abit AI7 865PE Motherboard

Article Index

Abit AI7 865PE Motherboard - Page 2


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

By: Jeff Bouton
December 18th, 2003

The Abit AI7 865PE Motherboard
Not What You Would Expect

The Board:

The board itself has a clean layout with a well thought out floor plan.  The board doesn't suffer from any of the common issues found with motherboard designs.  The ATX power connector is situated nicely on the edge of the board which helps route the cabling away from the CPU.  The Northbridge came with active cooling to help maintain acceptable temperatures which is critical, especially when overclocking the AI7.  Notice the position of the CPU socket which allows for shorter paths to its key components.  The AGP slot has the preferable hinged locking mechanism for keeping the card seated while adequate spacing was provided to allow the DIMM hinges to move freely even when a video card is in place.  The board's DIMM slots are situated in banks of two, each grouping with their own memory channel.  With a stick in one of each bank, Dual Mode is enabled.  The AI7 is equipped with an ample 5 PCI slots which should be more than sufficient for expansion, especially with the integrated components included on the board. 

Next to the ATX power connector, the board's IDE connectors are situated yet the floppy connection was shifted to the edge of the board, adjacent to the 5th PCI slot.  This particular board comes with dual SATA connectors driven by the Southbridge.  There is a blank space available for an additional SATA controller with future versions of the AI7.  One of the more useful options on this board is the Post Code Display which can offer clues if the system is experience errors.  The User's Guide has a full list of common codes that help to translate what is happening with the system at any given time.  The board has the standard PS2 ports for mouse and keyboard as well as one LPT1 and one Serial port.  Next to the Serial connection lies two Optical SPDIF connectors followed by sub-woofer and center channel outputs.  The next cluster housed the Line-In, Line-Out and Mic connections.  The board also has a total of 4 USB ports, a FireWire port and Gigabit Ethernet port.

The Bios:

The brains behind the brawn of the AI7 is a robust Phoneix AwardBIOS.  This version of the popular BIOS has a lot of options available for manipulating and tweaking the board's performance.  The bulk of the features are located in the SoftMenu Setup screen which houses most of the advanced performance settings.  This is the first stop for the overclocker for access to the FSB setting as well as component voltage controls.  The FSB of the AI7 has a broad range from 100MHz to 412MHz.  To help reach the maximum balance of performance, the CPU voltage can be adjusted from 1..525v to 1.9v in increments of .25v.  The DDR voltage can be go from 2.5v to a hefty 3.2v in .10 increments while the AGP voltage ranges from 1.5v to 1.65v in .05 increments.  Lastly, the DRAM Ratio can by adjusted for By SPD, 1:1, 5:4, and 3:2.  To round out the overclocking features was the F8 key for overclocking the system on the fly, making the settings take effect instantly.  The use of this however is limited since you won't notice if there is a problem until you attempt to fully boot the system into the OS..

The Advanced Chipset Features page has more memory related settings including advanced timings and AGP aperture settings.  For system performance enhancement, the Game Accelerator option provides several profiles for increased performance.  The default option is Auto, followed by Turbo, StreetRacer and F1, with each stage increasing the memory performance by tightening the timings.  The final two options are very aggressive with few memory modules actually able to run under these conditions.  When everything is all set, you have the option to save up to 5 BIOS profiles that can easily be toggled with the F6 and F7 keys.

Overclocking the ABIT AI7 865PE Motherboard
Turning Up the MHz.

Now that we've covered the standard performance of the ABIT AI7, it's time to see what extra performance lurked within the heart of the board.  It's no secret that the Pentium 4-C at 2.4GHz is an excellent overclocker, with typical results exceeding 3GHz.  With the AI7, we didn't waste any time, pushing the FSB to 250MHz at the start and the system booted without error.  We did set the memory divider to 5:4 knowing that the Kingston HyperX modules would not hit the 500MHz the 1:1 setting would demand.  We continued raising the FSB until we finally had failures at 270MHz.  We could boot into Windows but most programs would not load and the system would eventually hang.  We toned things down to 265MHz FSB and the system stabilized quite nicely.  All this and we were able to leave the Game Accelerator setting in "Turbo" mode for the memory timing setup.  When we put this to the test, we loaded Comanche4 and let the default test run with "No Audio" selected and we saw performance gains in excess of 25% over the standard results found on Page 4, hitting 69.71FPS.

Time For Sandra & Futuremark's Finest


Tags:  Motherboard, i7, Abit, board, AI, AR

Related content