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Reviewed by: Trevor Flynn [11.12.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson
Manufactured by: Abit
Price: ~$90

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First Impressions

Quite unlike Abit's "MAX" series, the box is nothing too flashy, with a nice mellow blue/white/black color scheme which I'd take any day over the fluorescent green of the KT400a Lanparty box. Listed on the front is the slogan "Give your PC Attitude" with a guy surfing in the upper right hand corner (gnarly!). Not a big fan of the slogan or the surfer, but I like the little mantra at the bottom. Speed - Stability - Power. Right On! That pretty much describes what every gamer is looking for in a motherboard.

 

The included bundle comes with the usual fare. Aside from a detailed manual and a smaller quick start up guide, the board comes packaged with all of the cables you'll need to get everything up and running right out of the box.

 The Board

It is very seldom that we see a regular old green PCB on a motherboard anymore. The IS7 is no exception as it comes built on a nice red colored PCB. With blue RAM slot as well as blue IDE headers and a blue north bridge cooler, this board would look sharp under both red and blue lighting.

The backplate connector comes fully stocked with almost all of the included options. That includes all of the extra sound connectors that are difficult to find on any budget board, especially the digital input and output. I did notice a lack of a game port, but very few people use anything besides USB game controller anymore, so it shouldn't affect too many of you.

The north bridge cooler, while stylish, doesn't appear to have a whole lot to it below the fan. For those doing only moderate overclocking this shouldn't be a problem as Intel north bridges typically don't run as hot as those of the AMD platform cousins. Then again, Abit offers some pretty hefty northbridge specific overclocking functions on this board. Of course, that seems to have been an afterthought. Aside from that, does anyone else think it's cool how the north bridge chip looks just like an old school celermine?

Now here is something that has truly endeared me to this motherboard. I love the fact that the IDE headers are not only placed right on the edge of the board, but also rotated to point outwards. This small little feature not only makes it infinitely easier to hide away those IDE cables, but it also allows you to reseat the cables without having to support the underside of the board.

As mentioned in the spec list, the board comes with 4 DIMM slots, one more than the typical Nforce2 board. Intel has also upped the ante but allowing for a maximum of 4GB of RAM, meaning you can have all four filled and still run in a dual channel config.

What is most unfortunate about that extra RAM slot is that it clutters things up around the backside of the video card creating a problem seen with many Nforce2 motherboard. If you have full length video card, you will have to remove it in order to access the first DIMM slot. Here you can see that a GF4 TI4200 completely blocks the little release lever in.

Aside from that, I have to say that Abit has done a very nice job of laying this motherboard out. As a longtime AMD user, I must say that it's nice not to have to worry about clearance around the CPU socket. Thankfully AMD came up with a standardized heatsink retention mechanism with the Athlon64, so CPU cooling purchases for AMD chips will be just as easy.

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