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ABIT KT7A-RAID

Company: ABIT
Product:
KT7A-RAID Motherboard
Street Price: ~ $160
Complete Motherboard Spec's: ABIT-USA Spec's
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2001
Reviewed By: Jason


(click on image for close-up)

 

To Be Or Not To Be:

Continuing on the success of the original KT7 & KT7-RAID, ABIT swapped out the Northbridge chip with the new VIA KT133A giving the KT7s true 133 FSB support (Really 266 MHz because it's a DDR architecture) and hence the KT7A & KT7A-RAID were born. Physically there are no other major changes to the board. The two pictures below show you the VIA Northbridge & Southbridge chips. The Northbridge being the KT133A (nice and shiny!) with 133FSB support, and the Southbridge is the new 686B Southbridge supporting ATA/100. The RAID boards also include the HighPoint 370 chip to support an addition two ATA/100 channels (with the traditional RAID 0/1/0+1 abilities of course).

 

Overall the board is nicely laid out, sporting a regular AGP slot, 6 PCI slots, and a lonely ISA slot for you legacy people. The CPU socket does have a few capacitors that are very close to it near the left clips which you must be cautious of, but there is plenty of clearance on the sides. Along with the usual cables, software, and manuals, ABIT was also kind enough to include a connector for the two extra USB ports, which mounts in the back where an unused PCI card would go. Thankfully there is no AMR/CNR slot, I think these companies have realized that those are a complete waste. As you can tell from the picture up top, the Northbridge chip is actively cooled (with the metal inset on the chip itself to aid in heat transfer). There are 3 memory slots (pretty standard for the VIA chipsets), I did all the tests with one 256MB memory stick in DIMM1, however, as with any board I've run across, using two or more slots almost always yields in a little less stability under heavy overclocking. Sometimes it takes a little time and patience to get a pair of memory sticks to work right, sometimes you can just plug and go with no problems.

A very nice feature of the KT7 boards is all the power connectors they give you. You have two near the ATX connector, and if you use the default "ww" BIOS then there has to be an RPM sensing fan on FAN1 or your system will not boot. However, ABIT has released a beta 01 BIOS "WZ" that allows you to disable this option. The next power connector is to the top right of the AGP slot (which is in the perfect location if you have an aftermarket 3-pin fan on your video card), and the last power connector is down on the bottom corner, which allows you to plug in a fan that you might have in the bottom-front of your case.


(All 3 images are linked on a single close-up page)

ABIT's 3-Phase Power Solution really distinguishes ABIT apart from other boards I have seen. While everyone else so far has opted to use a 2-phase solution, ABIT went a step further with their 3-phase solution, which you can read about in numerous ABIT Press Releases:

The last thing you need in your system is excess heat, or the stability and CPU lifespan issues that go with it. On the KT7-RAID, ABIT has gone a step further in preventing extra heat: A six MOSFET transistor set for a “3-Phase Power Solution.” These six transistors dissipate heat more effectively than the four transistor (“2-Phase”) solution found on most other Socket A motherboards. Additionally, should future Thunderbirds require higher amperage, the KT7-RAID will address power and heat issues better than boards with 2-phase solutions.

Another cool little feature I really like is their thermal probe choice, rather than use the smaller surface mount types, they used one that will actually touch the backside of the CPU, and thus will give you a more accurate temperature readout. As hot as AMD CPU's run, I like to get as accurate of a temperature as I can.

Oh, I almost forgot to say that this board also uses the kick ass ABIT SoftMenu III BIOS so you have NO jumpers to mess with for voltage or FSB, it's all in the BIOS! There are more things to tweak in this BIOS than I have seen in any other board!

 

Go To Page 2 For The Benchmarks

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