Abit BD7IIRAID & MSI 845E Max2 BLR

The Abit BD7IIRAID & MSI 845E Max2 BLR - Page 2

Abit's BD7II-RAID Vs. MSI's 845E Max2 BLR
Two Fully Featured i845Es Do Battle...

By, Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2002





The Abit BD7II-RAID is equipped with a very complete version of the Phoenix / Award v.6.0 BIOS, that populates the vast majority of motherboards currently shipping.  All of the on-board components can be enabled or disabled from within the BIOS, and all of the various settings, we've come to expect, for tweaking memory performance are available.



With the BD7II-RAID, like most of their other new products, Abit has included the universally lauded SoftMenu III.  From within the SoftMenu III, users can adjust the FSB (Front Side Bus) frequency between 100MHz and 250MHz, in 1MHz increments. This board also has an assortment of dividers that allow for better stability at higher bus speeds, because users can run all of their peripherals "in spec", while pushing their FSB to their CPU's limit.  Something we also liked to see was that the PCI clock can be "locked" at 33MHz, 37MHz or 44MHz, regardless of what FSB is being used. This ability should make the BD7II-RAID a favorite amongst the overclocking crowd. The Vcore and DDR voltages are also user adjustable, but not to the extent we would like. The Vcore can be set to +5%, +10% or +15%, which equates to a maximum of 1.725v with the current batch of P4s.  The DDR memory voltage can be set to anything between 2.5v and 2.7v, in .1v increments.  Another setting that some will find interesting is the ability to alter the DRAM Ratio H/W Strap.  This setting would normally be used with P4s that have a 100MHz FSB, to run the memory asynchronously at 133MHz.  If the DRAM Ratio H/W Strap setting is changed when using a P4 with a 133MHz FSB though, users can then run their memory at 177MHz, or +33% over the processors default FSB frequency.  With some tweaking, and high quality memory, this should make for some nice memory bandwidth numbers...

Layout and Build Quality
Abit is at it again...


Physically speaking, the Abit BD7II-RAID isn't very flashy.  The PCB isn't brightly colored, or have any fancy cooling hardware that'll catch your eyes, but make no mistake, this board is chock-full of goodies...


The Northbridge is passively cooled, with a relatively large all aluminum heatsink, that is held in place with an easily removable spring clip.  The i845E Northbridge doesn't generate a lot of heat, so passive cooling should be adequate even in overclocked situations.  The Multi-I/O back panel is a little different than most other boards.  As you can see, the USB ports are shifted to the right, with the 10/100 Ethernet port located just above them.  If your case doesn't conform to this layout, don't sweat it, Abit includes a cover that should fit most standard ATX enclosures.  There are 5 PCI slots and 1 AGP slot on the BD7II-RAID.  We prefer 6 PCI slots, but with all of the on-board peripherals populating this board, 5 PCI slots should be plenty. 


The Realtek RTL8100B Ethernet controller, the ALC650 AC'97 audio codec, as well as the High-Point HPT-372 RAID controller (underneath the sticker!) are all visible in the shots above.  The IDE-RAID connectors and floppy connector are all located to the right of the HPT-372 controller, mounted perpendicular to the edge of the board.  The standard IDE connectors are located just behind the three DIMM slots, on the upper right side, mounted parallel to the edge.  The ATX power connector is located in a good position, at the upper right corner of the board, but the four-pin 12V connector could have been located a bit better.  Its mounted just behind the 15-Pin game port, so without some creative wiring the cable will drape directly over your CPU cooler.  The CMOS battery is mounted vertically, which makes for easy removal.  Unfortunately, mounting the battery this way, also makes it easy to break the battery socket off the board, so be careful with inserting or removing any cables or peripherals.  Also visible are the three DIMM slots, which thankfully are far enough away from the AGP slot to make installation and removal of DIMMs easy, even with a long video card installed.  We tested the board with a single stick of Corsair PC2700 DDR RAM, and did not have any problems, but keep in mind that single-sided modules have to be used in DIMM slots 2 and 3 if you plan on populating all 3 slots.

There is ample room around the socket to fit just about any oversized cooler.  In fact, there is a surprising lack of clutter around the socket, with only six caps and a few coils in close proximity.  Lastly, scattered throughout the board are three 3-Pin fan headers which can are all monitored by the on-board WinBond chip...

Time For The MSI 845E Max2 BLR



Tags:  MSI, RAID, X2, BD, MS, Abit, AI, id

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