ABIT KT7-RAID Motherboard

Nov 2nd, 2000 | By

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ABIT KT7-RAID Motherboard


Date
: 11/2/00 – 09:32:25 PM

Author
:

Category
: Motherboard

Manufactor: ABIT
Price: $200

Thanks to MPL for supplying us with the KT7-RAID!!

Introduction

Some time ago people who bought AMD cpu’s, were faced with bad, unstable motherboards.
This made a lot of people buy an Intel chip instead of a TBird or a Duron. Lucky for us
motherboard manufactors have noticed this problem and now there are a lot of very good
motherboards out there with lots of features and great stability. One of the most popular
motherboards available today is the ABIT KT7-RAID, which also features a lot of great
stuff we’ll talk about later in the review.

Like I just mentioned, the KT7-RAID is being made by ABIT, a company that became famous
for its overclockers-friendly motherboards. In the beginning stability was sometimes
set aside to bring you more overclocking options, but I can tell you already that the
KT7-RAID has all the overclocking options AND has an unseen stability level.

The Specifications

For those who like the whole bunch of specs, here it is:

CPU

1. Supports AMD-K7 Athlon Socket A 200MHz FSB Processors
2. Supports AMD-K7 Duron Socket A 200MHz FSB Processors

Chipset

1. VIA (KT133) /VIA 686A
2. Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
3. Supports AGP 2X/4X (Sideband)
4. Supports 100/133MHz Memory Bus Settings

Ultra DMA 100

1. High Point HTP370 IDE Controller
2. Ultra DMA 100MB/Sec data transfer rate
3. RAID 0(stripping mode for boosting performance)
4. RAID 1 (mirroring mode for data security)
5. RAID 0 + 1(stripping and mirroring)

Memory

1. Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support PC100/PC133 SDRAM module
2. Supports up to 1.5 GB MAX. (8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB SDRAM)
3. Supports VCM module

System BIOS

1. SOFTMENUTM III Technology to set CPU parameters
2. Award Plug and Play BIOS
3. Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS
4. Year 2000 Compliant

Multi I/O Functions

1. Two Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to four Ultra DMA 33/66/100(up to 4 HDD devices)
2. Two Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting up to four Ultra DMA 33
3. PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse Connectors
4. 1x Floppy Port (up to 2.88MB)
5. 1x Parallel Port (EPP/ECP)
6. 2x Serial Ports
7. 2x USB Connectors
8. On board USB header for Two extra USB channels

Miscellaneous

1. ATX form factor
2. 1 AGP slot, 6 PCI slots and 1 ISA slots
3. Hardware monitoring – Including Fan speed, Voltages, System environment temperature
4. Built-in Wake on LAN/Wake on Modem
5. Built-in IrDA TX/RX header

As you can see this board comes fully equiped and ready for battle :). It features 6 pci slots for those that need a lot of expansion room and it even has an old ISA slot in case you still have a very old card laying around (it might be a good time to replace it anyway). Please note that the 6th PCI slot is shared with the ISA slot so you can’t use them at the same time. Furthermore the KT7-RAID supports AGP4x, hardware monitoring, … all the usual stuff.

The RAM junkies out there are left in the cold a bit … since you only have 3 dimm slots on the KT7-RAID resulting in a maximum amount of 1.5GB RAM. For most
people this will be more then enough, but it’s always nice to have 4 dimm slots available.

Something I should mention is that ABIT has decided to put an active cooler on the VIA KT133 chipset, which I really like a lot! I think all manufacturers should follow ABIT’s lead on this one because not only does it bring more stability to the board, but it looks good too :).

Maybe you noticed it yourself, but ABIT has decided NOT to add onboard sound to this motherboard. This is yet another smart(cost-cutting) move because most people who buy this board have a great soundcard already and don’t want to pay extra $$$ for something they will never use. Again, well done ABIT …

The board comes in two flavors: a RAID version and a normal UDMA66 version. ABIT made a clever move (yay again!) by making two versions available. For those that don’t want the RAID, just buy the cheaper non-RAID version. That two boards are exactly the same apart from the RAID controller. The RAID functions are discussed below.

SoftMenu III

You all known that the AMD cpu’s are multiplier locked (most of the time anyway) and that you can unlock it with the pencil trick I talked about in the 1GHz article. Once you unlocked your chip it’s possible to change the multiplier to whatever you like, making it much easier to overclock. But in order to change the multiplier, most manufactors put a set of dip switches on the motherboard which is a pain in the ass cause you always have to crawl into your case to alter it (especially when you change cpu’s a lot or when you are testing how high a certain cpu will go) and running the risk of losing a part of your body in one of those 7000rpm fans without fanguard (heh who needs those … they are for woosies ;)). Well this is where ABIT outfeatures all the contenders. They implemented the multiplier into their well-known SoftMenu III! This means you just press ‘DEL’ at boot, change the multiplier and press ‘F10′ and exit. Easy, isn’t it? Of course the SoftMenu III lets you control a bunch of other stuff too. You can up the fsb in 1MHz increments, voltage adjustements, adjust your ram settings, boot options, … all the stuff you already know and have become a standard.

Onboard RAID

Another great implementation ABIT made is adding onboard RAID capabilities. ABIT chose the Highpoint 370 controller to control all the RAID functions. For those who don’t know what RAID is, RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independant Disks, which means you are making one big drive from two smaller, and preferable identical, drives. In theory this means your drives are twice as fast as when running them in a non-RAID configuration. The RAID feature I just described is RAID-0 or striping. The KT7-RAID also supports RAID-1, better known as mirroring. Mirroring your drives won’t give you more performance, but it will ensure you that your files are always safe. When you mirror a drive, the RAID keeps an indentical copy of your original drive on the seconddrive. When the first one fails, the RAID will automatically enable the second one, and you’re all set.

Thanks to Hard|OCP for this picture

You can also combine RAID-0 with RAID-1 resulting is fast performance and datasecurity. For these configuration you will need four identical drives. For this review we opted for a RAID-0 configuration since we have a backup server running to make sure we never lose data when something fails.

Overclocking

System Setup
* ABIT KT7-RAID
* AMD TBird 1GHz
* 2x 128MB pc133 Mushkin Athlon Approved ram
* Hercules Geforce GTS 64MB
* 2x 15GB IBM UDMA100 hdd’s

To overclock this 1GHz cpu we added a GlobalWin FOP-38 and some Artic Silver with courtesy of 2Cool to make sure cooling wasn’t the problem. A Cardcooler XT was added too, thanks to The Card Cooler. Next thing we did was unlock the cpu by pencilling the L1 bridges on the cpu. Once everything was set we booted the computer. Everything was rockstable @ default speed so it was time to make this puppet fly. We set the multiplier to 11x and booted. Rockstable at 1100MHz with default voltage! Not bad huh?

Next setting we tried was 11.5x resulting in 1150MHz of rockstable power :). Still not satisfied with the results I tried to boot the pc with a multiplier setting of 12x resulting in an amazing speed of 1200MHz or 1.2GHz, which is just as fast as AMD’s latest cpu. Unfortunately this was not stable so we needed to up the voltage. I set the cpu voltage to 1.825v and booted. Stable as a rock! With 1.2GHz we also reached the final stop for this chip cause anything higher was unstable whatever the votlage was set to. Still not bad for a 1GHz chip I recon …

Testing, bechmarking, … the whole lot :)

Now we all read what this baby can do, we want to see some numbers of course. To see what kind of performance you can expect from this motherboard, we ran Q3: Arena, 3D Mark 2000 and Sisoft Sandra. The computer also ran Prime95 for 14 hours to make sure it is rockstable @ 1.2GHz.

First we’ll take a look at some Quake 3: Arena scores to find out how this rig performs in games

Look at those numbers!

The numbers speak for themselves no? This motherboard along with a fast cpu are kicking some major ass and are excellent components for a state of the art gaming system. As the resolution goes up along with the colordepth, you can see that the videocard is reaching it max. Guess we’ll need a Geforce GTS Ultra or a Voodoo 5 6000 (if it ever sees the daylight) to make full use of this kind of raw cpu power.

Next we’ll check out some 3D Mark 2000 results again to see how the rig holds up in games.

Run Forrest run …

3D Mark 2000 seems to enjoy this motherboard and this cpu a lot cause scores are pretty nice. Although they should be way higher, I think it has something to do with Windows 2000 or the Direct X version I use … I already tried using other versions of drivers and use other Direct X verions, but it did not help us out.

Enough game benchmarks … let’s see some Sandra lovin shall we?

Waw pretty fast!

The cpu outperforms every single reference cpu in the database, meaning there aren’t contenders around to kick this baby’s ass … not yet anyway.

And yet another cpu benchmark aimed at multimedia applications …

Did it surprise you after the previous results?

I believe the numbers speak for themselves no? This cpu truly is a winner … a king …

I already told you the KT7-RAID has very goods memory tweaks. I’ll prove it to you with the following picture.

Not bad huh?

These are the highest memory scores I’ve ever set my eyes on! Look at it … just look at it! None of the computers I’ve owned were able to perform like this. Such high memory speeds result in a very fast computer that can take everything you throw at it!

Now lets see what the difference is between a non-RAID drive and a RAID drive shall we?

The average scores most of you should be able to get.

The numbers you see above are the numbers you should be getting with a UDMA100 drive in a non raid configuration.

Now lets see what kind of performance we’ll get when we add a second drive and make a RAID-0 configuration. The results are really interesting.

Hold on to your seat bro!

Amazing huh! As you can see, the performance sky-rocketed when we enabled the RAID configuration.

As the benchmarks prove, the KT7-RAID is a very nice motherboard. It outperforms most other motherboards for AMD cpu’s available and it is rockstable! The board has not crashed once even after using it for two weeks 24/24h seven days a week!

Conclusion

ABIT did it again … they produced the best motherboard for the TBird and Duron cpu’s from AMD. The KT7-RAID has all the features you could wish for, while maintaining great stability. The motherboard is not all that expensive, and if you don’t want to the RAID you can get it for even less money. In short: if you’re looking for a good solid board for your socket A cpu, don’t hesitate and buy the KT7 or the KT7-RAID depending on your needs … you won’t regret it. Altough I never had problems with the board, there is a great site out there called KT7 FAQ which contains all problems AND solutions you could need. They also have great information about the board so make sure you check it out!

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