Abit AT7 and IT7 Legacy Free Motherboards

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The Legacy Free Abit AT7 and IT7 - Page 1

The ABIT "Legacy Free" AT7 & IT7 MAX Motherboards
Innovation Through Elimination...

By, Marco Chiappetta
July 9, 2002

Over the years, we haven't seen too many "standards" completely tossed aside.  For example, analysts have been saying for some time that the "end was near" for the good old floppy drive, but most of us still have one in our system.  When USB was first introduced, serial and parallel ports were immediately rendered obsolete, yet we still see these "old" ports on the vast majority of motherboards currently available.  Even ISA slots, which are inferior to PCI slots in every way, weren't done away with until very recently.  Basically, the point we're trying to get across is that even though newer, superior options may be available, most OEMs are reluctant to abandon the "old" standards in an effort maintain compatibility with the largest possible pool of hardware.  On the other hand, we have the ever fearless, Abit Computer, always thinking a bit "out of the box".

Today we'll be shining the spotlight on two of Abit's latest motherboards, the AT7 and IT7 MAX.  The AT7 and IT7 are the first two models in Abit's new MAX line of "Legacy Free" products.  Abit still manufactures quite a few products with legacy features on-board, but the MAX line aims to please the hardcore enthusiast, who wants nothing but cutting edge technology. With the MAX line of motherboards, Abit eliminates the PS2, Serial and Parallel ports, in favor of USB 2.0, IEEE-1394 and a host of other features.  The AT7 MAX is the Socket A variant based on the VIA KT333 chipset, and the IT7 MAX is based on the i845E, Intel's latest DDR enabled P4 chipset.  What do you say we install these bad-boys and see what they're made of?

Specifications / Features of the Abit AT7 (KT333) and IT7 (i845E)
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AT7

CPU:

  • Supports AMD-K7 Athlon /Athlon XP Socket A 200/266MHz FSB Processors

  • Supports AMD-K7 Duron Socket A 200 MHz FSB Processors

Chipset:

  • VIA KT333 / VIA VT8233A

  • Supports Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 IDE protocol

  • Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)

  • Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP 2X(3.3V)and 4X(1.5V)mode (Sideband) device

  • Supports 200/266/333 MHz (100/133/166MHz Double Data Rate) Memory Bus Setting

  • Ultra DMA 133/ RAID

  • High Point HPT374 IDE Controller

  • Ultra DMA 133MB/sec data transfer rate

  • RAID 0 (striping mode for boosting performance)

  • RAID 1 (mirroring mode for data security)

  • RAID 0 + 1(striping and mirroring)

Memory:

  • Four 184-pin DIMM sockets support PC1600/PC2100/PC2700 DDR DRAM modules

  • Supports DDR333 unbuffered DRAMs up to 2GB and registered DRAMs up to 3GB

  • Supports 6 banks up to 3GB DRAMs for unbuffered DDR200/266 modules

  • Supports 8 banks up to 3.5GB DRAMs for registered DDR200/266 modules

Audio:

  • Realtek ALC650 (AC-Link)

  • Supports 6CH DAC for AC3 5.1 CH purpose

  • Professional digital audio interface supporting 24-bit SPDIF OUT

Card Reader (Optional):

  • Supports Memory card (MS or SD) Interface

  • Supports SONY Memory Stick Interface/ SD Memory Card Interface

  • Supports Compact Flash ROM Interface

System BIOS:

  • SoftMenu? III Technology to set CPU parameters

  • Supports Plug-and-Play (PNP)

  • Supports Advanced Configuration Power Interface (ACPI)

  • Supports Desktop Management Interface (DMI)

  • Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS

LAN:

  • On board Realtek 8100B single chip Ethernet controller interface

  • 10/100Mb Operation

Multi I/O Functions:

  • 2 Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to 4 Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 devices

  • 4 Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to 8 Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 (RAID 0/1/1+0) devices

  • 4 USB 1.1 Connectors

  • On board VIA VT6202 USB 2.0 header for four extra USB channels

  • Three 1394a fully compliant cable ports at 100/200/400 megabits per second

  • Audio connector (Line-in, Center/Sub, Surround Spk , Front Spk , Mic-in)

Miscellaneous:

  • ATX form factor

  • 1 AGP 1.5v slot, 3 PCI slots

  • Hardware monitoring - Including Fan speeds, Voltages, System environment temperature

IT7

CPU:

  • Supports Intel Pentium® 4 Socket478 processor

  • 400/533MHz System Data Bus

Chipset:

  • Intel 845E (ICH4) chipset

  • Supports AGP 4X 1.5V device only

  • Supports Hi-Speed Universal Series Bus (USB 2.0)

  • Supports Dual Ultra ATA/100,Ultra ATA/66,Ultra ATA/33 channels supporting 4 devices

  • Ultra DMA 133/ RAID

  • High Point HPT374 IDE Controller

  • Ultra DMA 133MB/sec data transfer rate

  • RAID 0 (striping mode for boosting performance)

  • RAID 1 (mirroring mode for data security)

  • RAID 0 + 1(striping and mirroring)

Memory:

  • Three 184-pin DIMM sockets support DDR SDRAM modules

  • Supports up to 2 GB MAX. (64, 128, 256, 512MB DDR SDRAM)

  • Supports unbuffered Non-ECC type DDR DIMMs

Audio:

  • Realtek ALC650 (AC-Link)

  • Supports 6CH DAC for AC3 5.1 CH purpose

  • Professional digital audio interface supporting 24-bit SPDIF OUT

Card Reader:

  • Supports Memory card (MS or SD) Interface

  • Supports LPC bus

  • Supports SONY Memory Stick Interface/ SD Memory Card Interface

  • Supports Compact Flash ROM Interface

System BIOS:

  • SoftMenu? III Technology to set CPU parameters

  • Supports Plug-and-Play (PNP)

  • Supports Advanced Configuration Power Interface (ACPI)

  • Supports Desktop Management Interface (DMI)

  • Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS

LAN:

  • On board Realtek 8100B single chip Ethernet controller interface

  • 10/100Mb Operation

Multi I/O Functions:

  • 2 channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to 4 Ultra DMA 33/66/100 devices

  • 4 channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to 8 Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 (RAID 0/1/1+0) devices

  • 6 USB 2.0 Connectors

  • On board VIA VT6202 USB 2.0 header for four extra USB channels

  • Three P1394a fully compliant cable ports at 100/200/400 megabits per second

  • Audio connector (Line-in, Center/Sub, Surround Spk, Front Spk ,Mic-in)

Miscellaneous:

  • ATX form factor

  • 1 AGP 1.5v slot, 4 PCI slots

  • Hardware monitoring - Including Fan speeds, Voltages, System environment temperature
     


THE BUNDLES:

There were quite a few goodies included with the AT7 MAX.  Abit knows that this is the type of product that requires multiple "extras" to take full advantage of the board, so they decided to provide their customers with a very complete bundle.

 

With the AT7 MAX, we found three 80-Wire ATA/133 IDE cables and a standard floppy cable.  There was a very good user's manual in the package, as well as a BIOS optimization guide, a small package of wire ties and adhesive cable hold-downs, a driver CD and a 3.5" floppy disk with drivers for the on-board HPT374 RAID controller.  A custom plate was included to accommodate the non-standard external connector layout on the backplane and a dual-USB connector was also present.  We were definitely pleased with the AT7's bundle.  Only the Soyo K7-DRAGON boards come close to providing as many accessories as Abit has with the AT7.  The IT7 MAX we tested wasn't quite ready for retail, so we did not receive any packaging or accessories with that board.  However, Abit has informed us that the retail IT7 MAX packages will be the same as the AT7 MAX.

   

   

An optional component that works with either of the MAX branded motherboards, is Abit's new Media XP adapter.   The Media XP adapter gets installed in a 5.25" drive bay and gives users access to front mounted USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 ports.  There are also headphone, microphone and S/PDIF jacks on the Media XP, as well as Sony Memory Stick, Secure Digital and Compact Flash I & II slots.  Rounding out the package is a wireless infra-red remote the gives users the ability to control WinDVD, WinRip and Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations.  The remote works like a standalone DVD player remote, but controls WinDVD's functions. Once the Media XP is installed, users will have three new removable drives listed under "My Computer", one for each of the media readers.  We briefly tested the Compact Flash reader, and it worked great.  The only thing we didn't like about the Media XP was the extra wiring it introduced into our case.  Having three separate cables for the USB, audio and IEEE-1394 connectors is a bit cumbersome.  We would have preferred seeing a single ribbon cable in their place.

INSTALLATIONS:

Thankfully, we did not have any problems when installing either of these motherboards.  The are only two "special" considerations to make when installing either the AT7 or IT7 MAX.  One obviously, is to have a USB keyboard and mouse handy because there are no PS2 connectors on either board.  The other additional step would be installing the custom I/O backplane cover onto your case.  The MAX series of "Legacy Free" motherboards have a totally different external connector layout, so Abit includes a cover that should fit most cases.  Configuring the OS was painless as well.  The included CD-ROM contains all of the drivers necessary to get the entire gamut of on-board peripherals working within Windows. 

The BIOSes, Layouts and Quality 

 
 

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