Quality and Setup of the Abit IT7-MAX2 v2
Packed With Goodies!
With the exception of the
black PCB, and the i845PE chipset the IT7 Max2 v2 is
physically identical to the original revision.
The layout of this board is very well thought out,
with very good component and connector placement.
If you're not already familiar with Abit's "MAX" line
of motherboards, the first thing that'll jump out at
you is the IT7 Max2 v2's external I/O port layout.
Abit has done away with the dated serial and parallel
ports in favor of more USB ports, IEEE "Firewire"
ports, Ethernet and 6-Channel audio with digital
output. The slot configuration is also different
from most other boards, with a larger than usual gap
between the single AGP slot and four PCI slots.
The Northbridge is passively cooled by a large
aluminum heatsink, which is more than adequate
considering the relatively low operating temps of the
The IT7-Max2 v2's 4-Phase
power circuitry located behind the Socket 478 is
visible in the above shots. Abit claims the
4-Phase power circuit will carry this board well into
the future, and allow it to reliably operate some yet
to be announced CPUs. There is ample room around
the socket to accommodate large coolers, with the ATX
power connectors mounted out of the way, flanking the
CPU socket on either side. Traveling further
down the board we can see the well placed RAID and
SATA connectors (powered by a HighPoint HPT374
controller), mounted perpendicular to the edge.
Also visible are the very useful integrated power and
reset switches, as well as the integrated POST
diagnostic tool's bank of LEDs.
Two of the four available
fan headers can been seen in the picture above.
Mounted just behind the 3 DIMM slots, parallel to the
edge of the board, you'll find the connectors for IDE
channels 1 and 2, along with the floppy connector.
Unfortunately, the DIMM slots are situated in a way
that make it almost impossible to install or remove
RAM without first removing the video card, but we
won't hold too much against Abit for this.
Almost every other OEM has made this mistake on
IT7-Max 2 v2.0 was equipped with a Phoenix / Award
v.6.0 BIOS derivative, all of the standard BIOS menus
are visible above. From within the IT7 Max2 v2.0's
BIOS, all of the integrated peripherals can be enabled
or disabled. Users planning to use high-end
add-in audio or NIC cards do not have to worry about
conflicts with the on-board components. Tweaking
memory timings for optimal performance is possible,
thanks to a multitude of toggle that will actually
allow CAS latency settings as low as 1.5! User's are
also given the ability to specify what percentage to
throttle down their CPU speed, or to completely
shut-down the system, should it begin to overheat.
Enthusiasts familiar with
Abit's SoftMenu III will be happy to know it is
incorporated into the IT7 MAX 2 v2.0's BIOS. SoftMenu III
give users the ability to adjust virtually every
aspect of their CPU and FSB. Should you be lucky
enough to have an unlocked ES P4, the multiplier can
be manually altered and the FSB (Front Side Bus) can
be set to any speed between 100 and
250MHz, in 1MHz increments. This board also has an assortment of dividers that allow for better
stability at higher bus speeds, but the most useful
feature allows users to lock the PCI clock at 33, 37
or 44MHz, regardless of what FSB is being used. Vcore
and DDR voltages can also be adjusted, but
unfortunately the I/O voltage cannot be changed. The Vcore can be set as high as 1.7v in .25v increments,
which is relatively low, hopefully a future BIOS
update will raise this limit. The DDR memory
voltage can be set to any voltage between 2.5v and
2.8v in .1v increments.