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Reviewed By: Carl 'lowlight' Nelson [10.28.00]
Manufactured by: Abit
Suggested Price: $200 Find a MUCH lower price on IBuyer

Getting a Duron or T-Bird? GET This:

A while back, we looked at this board's main (and for a while, only) competition, the Asus A7V.  We really liked that board, believe me.  It was designed perfectly, featured an onboard ATA/100 IDE controller, and allowed for multiplier overclocking of Duron and Athlon CPU's.  About the only problem I had with it was the use of DIP switches, rather than software settings in the BIOS.  That and the fact that it didn't have a CMOS reset (something I could have used when my first board seemingly died on me) were the only things holding it back from the revered 100% score.

As I said, my original A7V simply died on me one night... I was enjoying a gruesome Quake 2 deathmatch, when all of a sudden, it crashed! At first, I thought maybe my shiny new Thunderbird 750 wasn't quite stable at 950 Mhz, so I prepared myself to downclock it a bit.  Unfortunately, I was unable to POST at all! There were no error beeps, and the diagnostic LED showed no problems! Yikes! Maybe I fried my CPU! Newbies and ignorant people will tell you that overclocking your CPU will harm it, but in my (3 or 4) years of overclocking experience (since Pentium 1), the only problem you would ever have with overclocking is the occasional crash, and perhaps some corrupted data on your hard drive.

As it turned out, the motherboard really was damaged... I know this now, because I replaced it, and everything works fine! This may have been a blessing in disguise, because since the Asus bit the dust, I was able to replace it with a different, but equally pleasant motherboard, the Abit KT7-RAID, which I'll tell you a bit about now.

VIA's KT133 Chipset

Like Asus' A7V, the KT7-RAID uses a chipset from Via's venerable line.  Some sites will tell you to stick with a BX-based chipset for Intel CPU's.  That may get you some higher memory benchmarks in SiSoft Sandra, but you'll really miss some nice features such as:

  • AGP 4X

  • ATA/66

  • AGP Fast Writes

  • True 133 Mhz front side bus

  • 133 Mhz memory bus

  • Built-in sound (kidding!)

Anyway, I guess the jury's still out for some people on which chipset to use.  The fact that Abit is discontinuing the BX133-RAID tells me something, but the choice is yours... Anyway, back to AMD.

Some may still like the 440BX for Intel CPU's, but there's really no arguing that the KT133 chipset, introduced by Via for use with Socket A "Thunderbird" Athlons, and AMD's new value-based CPU, the Duron, is the absolute best way to go.  You have all the features listed above, and a lot of motherboard manufacturers are adding onto those, to keep up with changing specs.  The main featuring being ATA/100 support, or even ATA/100 RAID, as is the case with the KT7-*ahem*-RAID.  They also make a non-RAID, non-ATA/100 version which should be the same in every way otherwise.

One thing I like about additional IDE controllers is the fact that you can add much more drives than you normally could.  Want a RAID setup with separate drives for DVD, CD, and CD-R? Be my guest! You can have up to 8 individual drives, but just thinking of the IRQ settings that would be involved makes me dizzy...

Where do they find the room for all this stuff?

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