Abit AT7 and IT7 Legacy Free Motherboards

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The Legacy Free Abit AT7 and IT7 - Page 2

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

By, Marco Chiappetta
July 9, 2002

THE AT7's BIOS:

         

         

         

The AT7 MAX was equipped with a very complete revision of the Phoenix / Award v.6.0 BIOS that populates most of the motherboards that are shipping today.  We captured screenshots from within almost every section so demonstrate just how complete this BIOS really was.  There are toggles for all of the on-board components, and various settings are available for tweaking memory for optimum performance.

All of the more interesting settings can be found under the SoftMenu III menu.  In the SoftMenu III menu, Abit consolidates all of the most useful overclocking features.  Providing you have an unlocked CPU, the BIOS on the AT7 allows multiplier adjustments from 5 to 13 in increments of .5.  You can also adjust the FSB (Front Side Bus) in 1MHz increments between 100 and 250MHz.  In the past, these excessively high bus speeds were not a reality, but the AT7 has an assortment of FSB:AGP:PCI ratios that make hitting 200MHz+ FSBs possible, providing users have high quality DDR RAM.  The FSB/AGP/PCI ratios available are 3:2:1, 4:2:1 and 5:2:1.  The Vcore, I/O and DDR voltages are also user adjustable.  The Vcore can be altered between 1.1v and 1.85v, in .25v increments.  The I/O voltage can be set to either 3.5v or 3.65v and the DDR memory voltage can be set to any voltage between 2.55v and 2.85v, in .1v increments.  At default settings, according the PC Health status screen, the AT7 was slightly over-volting our CPU to 1.76v.  When we maxed out the Vcore setting to 1.85v though, the PC Health screen was "only" reporting 1.82.

Layout and Quality
This Ain't Your Momma's Mobo...

THE AT7's LAYOUT:

It seems that Abit put considerable thought into the design and layout of the AT7 MAX.  Physically, there are quite a few interesting features to point out.  When you initially look at this board, its immediately apparent that something is different about the AT7...

 

The first thing we noticed was the apparent lack of slots on the AT7 MAX.  There is 1 AGP slot and 3 PCI slots available on this board.  I know some of you are saying, "Only 3 PCI Slots?"...well, yes, but keep in mind this board has a ton of useful integrated features.  Looking at the backplane yields some more "weirdness".  As we mentioned earlier, the MAX branded boards are "Legacy Free", so the PS/2, Serial and Parallel ports are all gone.  Replacing them are two USB 1.1 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two IEEE-1394 ports, digital audio output and 5.1 channel analog audio outputs.  There is also a 10/100 Ethernet connector.

   

Another physical feature that stands out is the amount of IDE connectors.  The integrated HPT-374 ATA/133 capable RAID controller allows the connection of up to 8 IDE devices, hence the four connectors at the lower, left corner of the board.  Two more ATA/133 capable IDE channels come by way of the VIA Southbridge, bringing the total number of IDE devices that be connected to the AT7 MAX to 12!  The HPT-374 proved to be a great performer too, as you'll see on the next page.  The only legacy feature that found it's way onto the AT7 MAX is a standard floppy controller, the connector is placed just below the four IDE RAID connectors.

 

There is ample space around the Socket A, so fitting an "Alpha Sized" cooler onto this board should not be a problem.  Also visible is the picture at the left is the 3-Phase power circuitry.  The 3-Phase power circuitry spreads the current load across 6 M.O.S.F.E.T.s (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor) whereas a 2-Phase array, found on some other boards, spreads the load over 4 M.O.S.F.E.T.s. Simply put, less load per component equates to less heat which in turn yields cleaner power and a longer component lifespan.  Four DIMM slots are available, allowing for a maximum of 2GB of RAM when using unbuffered DIMMs, or 3GB using registered DIMMs.  ATX Power connector placement was also very good.  The ATX Power connector is at the top of the board, between the DIMM slots and Socket A, so the power supply cable won't drape over your CPU cooler.  The Northbridge has an active cooler, that had a smooth layer of thermal paste applied (something we were glad to see).  Some features not visible in the above pics are the five 3-Pin fan headers available at various locations around the board, and LEDs that show whether or not power is being supplied to the board.  All of the headers are clearly labeled, which made connecting our case LEDs and switches easy, without having to open the User's Manual.

Let's Check Out the IT7...

  

 

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