Abit KD7 Motherboard ReviewBosco - February 22, 2003
: GF City Computers
Price: $169 USD
Today, we will be taking a look at some more becoming-mainstream computer equipment. The main focus of this review will be the Abit KD-7 motherboard. It is like the little sister to the MAX line. Can it give us some MAX performance without the MAX price tag?
This motherboard is well packaged, and Abit included plenty of extras. A manual and software with drivers are included. There is 1 IDE cable and a floppy cable where included; two extra USB ports were in this box as well, in the form of header add-on that fits into an empty PCI bracket. Finally an I/O back plate is also included for the various things that are included on this motherboard that aren't on most motherboards.
Abit has produced a good offering of onboard features. They have included a 6 channel audio solution, LAN, USB 2.0 and ATA133 through the Via Apollo KT400 chipset. Other things that are included on this motherboard are 4 DDR slots, but only 2 can used with DDR333 or DDR400, also known as PC2700 and PC3200. AGP 8x is also another important feature when considering upgradeability. The onboard LAN is only capable of 10/100 mbps, but at this time not many people have a use for gigabit LAN, which is included in some higher-end motherboards.
The I/O ports are very plentiful and well diversified. From left to right, you'll find: PS/2 ports (mouse and keyboard), one parallel port on top of the two serial ports, S/PDIF output (for digital signal sound output) center/subwoofer and rear speakers, standard mic in, line in, and front speakers and then finally USB 2.0 ports underneath a RJ45 connector.
While I haven't been able to test the S/PDIF output, I have used all the other connectors, including the parallel and serial ports, and have no problems whatsoever with them. The extra USB ports aren't that good however in my opinion. They are flimsy and I feel like I'm bending or breaking it when I plug something in, but they work nonetheless. When I first started setting up this motherboard, I noticed the RAM slots are rather close to the AGP slot. So, I made sure to put the RAM in first instead of the video card. It was a good thing too. The white clips that hold the RAM in place are totally blocked by the video card. While this might be a problem for some, it all worked. Also, there is a lock to hold the AGP card in place, which is hard to get to, but does it's job very well.
The next thing I noticed was the clearance around the zero-insertion-force (ZIF) socket. There was nothing there, and more then enough room for a Volcano 9 that was used to cool the CPU, and it fits perfectly. I applied Arctic Alumina to the CPU core first. While there was plenty of room, the PSU on my case sits very close to the heatsink. Not always a good thing, but it doesn't seem to have effected temperatures.
This is somewhat of a budget look at high speed computing. Can this give us some top of the line performance without the top of the line price tag? How much of an overclock will this be able to pull off?
Here is a quick look at the test setup being used:
I've chosen a wide variety of benchmarking software to test the limits of this system. Using both overclocked and stock configurations, this will give us a good look at this motherboard and this rig's overall performance. SiSoftware Sandra will become the core of these benchmarks, as well as 3DMark2001SE and PCMark2002 from Futuremark. I was incredibly happy, as this is my personal system.
I tested it at stock, with the CPU overclocked, with the video card overclocked, and with both overclocked.
I tried to push this machine to its fullest extent. However, at a 170 front side bus (FSB), the PC2700 memory was too unstable to be benchmarked successfully. Stock saw a score of 9747 3DMarks, compared to roughly 85003DMarks on the Asus A7S333 with the same exact CPU, video card and hard drive. For a mid-range Ti4200, this is a decent score. The 10,000 3DMark score was not possible for me to get without CPU overclocking, but I'm still trying. When the CPU and video card are pushed to the max, it doesn't even look the other way and pushes out almost 12K 3DMarks, a score I am still trying to attain.
Here is a link to the 11563 score, in FutureMark's Project Compare website. FutureMark's PCMark2002 is going to be displayed first, followed by SiSoftware Sandra.
PCMark2002 is Futuremark's way of testing overall system performance. When used with 3DMark scores, it gives one a good comparison, and using their online database, you can compare you scores to everyone else's. In fact, you can check out my scores here. These scores were right around average, according to Futuremark's website, as per my CPU speed. Not bad considering I have slower RAM compared to what this motherboard can truly handle.
I will run SiSoftware Sandra at 166 FSB, to see how this motherboard compares with faster speed processors. The CPU speed goes from 1400 to 1743 MHz. This is roughly equal to the Athlon XP 2100+, which is rated at 1730 MHz.
Once again, these scores were right around average for the components being used. The BIOS is very good, even before upgrading. Many options are there in way of voltages and clock settings compared to some motherboards.
The BIOS also has a lot of info on various temps, voltages, and fan speeds. This is always an overclocker's friend.
Just a final note. There have been rumors that the heatsink on the northbridge have no thermal compound. While that might be the case, my motherboard did come with some.
In conclusion, I think that this motherboard is incredible. I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.