Review: Abit KG7-RAID - Part 1
Sporting 6 PCI slots, AGP 4x, and IDE RAID capability, this latest Athlon board from Abit can take up to a whopping 4GB of fast DDR DIMM. Dave Cook checks it out.
|Price||Around £170 inc. VAT|
|We don't like|
Okay, so it takes confidence to attempt your first motherboard upgrade. But it's not a particularly difficult task. Within a couple of hours or so, there's a good chance you'll be wondering what all the fuss was about.
It helps, of course, if you choose a board from a leading manufacturer such as Abit. In fact, Abit was the first company to abandon setting up the CPU via complicated jumpers and switches, moving all the options to its now famous SoftMenu BIOS setup. Thanks to SoftMenu III, upgrading your motherboard - or even overclocking your PC to increase its performance - has never been easier. But more of that later.
We'll begin by listing the impressive features of the KG7-RAID motherboard.
- Supports AMD Athlon (or Duron) Socket A processors based on 200/266MHz clock (100MHz/133MHz Double Data Rate).
- AMD 761/VIA VT82C686B chipset with Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI).
- ATX form factor. * 6 PCI slots.
- Supports AGP 2X/4X. * Supports Ultra DMA 100.
- Supports up to 8 IDE Hard disks (including 4 RAID).
- RAID 0 (striping mode for boosting performance).
- RAID 1 (mirroring mode for data security).
- RAID 0+1 (striping and mirroring).
- Four 184-pin DIMMs support up to 4GB registered DDR SDRAM, or up to 2GB unbuffered (using 2 sockets) DDR SDRAM.
- SoftMenu III for easy setup of CPU parameters (and easy overclocking).
- Award Plug and Play BIOS supports APM, DMI, and write-protect Anti-Virus functionality.
- PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse connector, 1 floppy port (up to 2.88MB). 2 serial ports. 1 parallel port (standard/EPP/ECP).
- 2 USB connectors, plus on board USB header (and cable/connectors) for two extra USB channels.
- Built-in Wake on LAN/Modem headers.
- Built-in IrDA TX-RX and SM-Bus headers.
- Hardware monitoring of fan speed, voltages, and CPU environment temperature monitoring.
It's worth noting that the AMD761 chipset is cooled by a tiny heatsink and fan. That said, the inclusion of four fan headers should ensure that even the most enthusiastic overclocker can fit enough fans to keep the CPU and/or additional components cool.
In line with other Abit boards, such as the VP6 dual-CPU and the SA6-R, the board also sports the tried and tested HighPoint HPT370 controller. The HPT370 chipset automatically fine-tunes each IDE/ATAPI device to attain optimum performance.
The HighPoint chipset provides two options: you can either set it up as an additional IDE controller (allowing you to connect up to 8 Ultra DMA 33/66/100 IDE drives in total), or you can turn it into an IDE RAID system. The latter option is bound to tempt power-hungry users, because it will save them forking out extra money on a third-party RAID controller.
Although no on-board sound system is provided, this is probably a fair trade-off in exchange for RAID capability. Besides, adding your own sound card should be no problem thanks to the luxurious number of free PCI slots that are available.
In terms of connectivity, an 80-wire/40-pin ribbon cable, 1 standard HD cable, and one floppy drive cable are included. A comprehensive user manual is also provided, along with driver CD, an IDE RAID driver disk, and a USB cable with 2 additional USB connectors.
Next time, we'll show you how to turn an ageing 233MHz Pentium II into an impressive 1.2GHz Athlon speed machine that supports the latest DDR SDRAM. All you need is Abit's KG7-RAID motherboard and most if not all of your original components.