I’ve always been a big fan of Abit motherboards. The first computer I put together was built around a BH6 and ever since then I’ve been a loyal Abit (OK I had an affair with a Soyo board once but that ended badly and it didn’t mean anything). I was a little hesitant to replace my BH7 with a new board but after taking a look at the following specs it was a pretty easy decision.
- Intel 875P / ICH5 RAID
- Support Intel CSA Gigabit LAN
- Supports Dual Channel DDR 400 with ECC function
- Supports Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) function
- Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
- Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
- Supports 4 DIMM Dual DDR 400 memory.(Max. 4GB)
- Supports configurable ECC function
IC7 on the left, BH7 on the right
Physically, the IC7-Max 3
is a little bigger than my old BH7 and it filled the entire cavity of the case I installed it in. The board has five PCI slots, one AGP. You may never use the PCI slots though, as the board provides most of your basic needs with six channel audio and gigabit Ethernet included. Got SATA? It’s also included on the board and you can connect up to six SATA drives to this puppy without breaking a sweat. You can configure it in either two channel or four channel RAID.
With the OTES fan sitting in the back, some connectors have to go. The board has done away with parallel and large serial connectors leaving the mouse and keyboard serial connectors. This isn't a problem unless you are like me who has a parallel port only printer. But all printers and devices are using USB nowadays so this change is rather welcomed.
Softmenu is here and it's a staple of ABIT boards. If you are an overclocker or a tweaker, all you need to do is hit the BIOS and adjust your settings. FSB can be increased in 1MHz increments. AGP/PCI bus speeds can be locked so that overclocking the board doesn't affect the cards. "Game Accelerator" settings of Turbo, Street Racer, and F1 adjusts the DRAM latency time settings with each instance being more aggressive.
Installing the IC7-Max
is standard fare but Abit has made things a lot easier by laying out the motherboard nicely. Side mounted IDE headers make hooking up and wiring your drives much easier. It’s kind of silly but it seems easier to slide them into place versus pushing them down into the board. Abit also did a nice job of placing the power headers on the sides of the board so you don’t have to run power cables across the board. Inserting the CPU is easy but with the OTES cooling system installing the stock Pentium4 heat sink is a little tight. Getting the heat sink out is not going to be a lot of fun. The motherboard has five three-pin but only two of them are available for use (the OTES system, CPU Fan, and northbridge fan use one header each). One thing I missed from my BH7 was the AGP retention device (it was basically a DIMM holder for the AGP slot). Not a big deal but I thought it was kind of cool.
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