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I read alot of reviews before I went out and bought this board. Most of them were good, and I have to say I agree with them. When I bought the board, I got an AMD 1.2Ghz running on a 100Mhz bus. I also needed a new power supply. The first thing to make sure is that you buy a PSU that IS AMD recommended. Because I didnt! I blew four processors before I decided to change the PSU. I even changed the board after the 2nd CPU blew and it still blew the 3rd CPU! Imagine my anger. So anyway after purchasing a decent PSU, I have installed the board and the CPU and everything is fine. I had to reinstall Windows 2000 because it is very hardware specific when it installs and would not even boot up with the new board in. Not too much trouble there. So whats the board like? It is very well laid out, with the IDE ports close to where my drives are so I don't have short cable syndrome. The CPU has to fan connectors close to it so you can have two fans running at the same time, just in case one breaks down. If you are only running one and it breaks, you can set the bios to automatically turn your computer off so you don't damage the CPU. There are three more fan connectors on the board so you can have a mega cold system, that sounds lkike a hoover. This would seriously benefit the over clockers so they don't burn their CPU. I have found this board to be extremly stable under Windows 2000, and the power management functions are useful in the fact that I don't have to turn the computer off any more. I can just put it into hibernate mode, where it saves everything to disk. When you switch on again, it loadds into Windows a lot quicker than a clean reboot. Overall a very good board.
I purchased this motherboard in November last year, realising that my k6-2-350 and pc chips motherboard just didn’t cut it with the more demanding 3D computer games cropping up. I use my machine mainly for gaming with my choice games being First Person Shooters such as Quake 3 arena and Half Life so an upgrade of motherboard and CPU was needed. I had heard many great reports about the latest Athlon Thunderbird CPUs and they definitely weren’t wrong. I hadn’t read many articles about a suitable motherboard to go with my newly purchased Thunderbird 850 but I had heard good things about the manufacturer ‘Abit.’ Reading the specifications on two of their latest products suitable for use with the Thunderbird CPU I decided to go for the RAID version of the Abit KT7. For the extra £15 this board cost for the onboard RAID controller it seemed very worthwhile considering the performance boost, which the RAID can provide with a good set up. For those who don’t know what this RAID controller is, it’s an extra pair of IDE channels on the motherboard which are hardware controlled to have 2 similar hard drives set up in such a way that you can double the speed at which a single hard drive works. This is RAID mode 0 known as ‘striping.’ This works by spanning information over 2 hard drives, with half the information on one drive and half on the other drive, when data is requested, the band width of each hard drive can be used so in effect you are able to retrieve data in half the time it would take with a single drive. Hard drives don’t have to be the same size or same speed but you will only have double the capacity of the smallest hard drive and double the speed of the slowest hard drive. The other mode is RAID 1, known as ‘mirroring.’ This doesn’t give your system any extra performance but does give the security of a backup onto the second hard drive so i f one hard drive should fail you can carry on using the other. This RAID controller supports up to 4 IDE devices and a combination of RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations can be used and set up quite easily through a BIOS option when you boot up your computer. The specifications of the KT7 RAID are as follows: Supports AMD Athlon/Duron Socket A 200MHz FSB Processors up to 1250 but you can now go up to 1400 I believe with the latest bios. It uses the VIA (KT133) /VIA 686A chipset Has an on board Ultra RAID DMA 100 High Point HTP370 IDE Controller Uses Abit’s superb SoftMenu™III bios Technology to set CPU parameters. This is extremely simple to use, following each option through with the manual telling you what each option does and gives great overclocking ability. You can manually set the CPU clock multiplier, front side bus speeds which can be increased in 1MHz increments for overclocking the last few MHz out of your CPU and the core voltage for the CPU which is a vital factor in overclocking the CPU, as more speed needs more voltage but this also creates heat so you need a good CPU cooler such as the excellent pure copper Canine Hedgehog. As the speed of your CPU is the clock multiplier x front side bus speed. You will only be able to overclock the front side bus speed of this motherboard to around 112MHz which is a bit of a let down now that the latest boards are reaching FSB speeds of near 200MHz! You will also only be able to manually adjust the clock multiplier if your AMD CPU is ‘unlocked.’ You can find more details on this at www.hexus.net Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support PC100/PC133 SDRAM memory modules for easy upgrading of your RAM. Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support 1 4x AGP slot, 6 PCI slots and 1 ISA slot offering superb expandability for installation of extra hardware for example, network, graphics, SCSI and sound cards. Enough of the technic al crap and on with what the board is actually like to use. Installing it was a bit fidly as the holes didn’t quite line up with the motherboard-mounting studs on my motherboard tray. I don’t know which item is at fault so I wont give either a bitching for that. After it was properly mounted I connected up all of my other hardware very easily and all cable were easy to fit so top marks for the layout of the board. I booted up and easily configured the great BIOS as mentioned earlier. Had my Athlon thunderbird 850 running nicely at 1020MHz. After reinstalling windows I experienced many problems. My Soundblaster Live! Was causing all sorts of problems because it has issues with the VIA chipset and so eventually after trying it in every PCI slot I managed to get it more stable in slot 4. After installing the latest VIA 4in1 drivers to give better driver support for the motherboard hardware I started getting random system reboots and my system kept hanging on boot up just as it displayed the desktop. I found this to be a problem with a Segate hard drive driver and so after renaming the driver file this problem was fixed. After the 1st few weeks I had been experiencing many stability problems. I found another problem with the APM (Advanced Power Management) controlled by the motherboard. Whenever I put the computer into suspend mode it wouldn’t come back alive forcing me to reset. The best way to resolve this is to disable APM in the bios and you should find it all suspends ok then. I upgraded windows 98se to windows 2000 professional and found it to be a lot more stable than windows 98 and so I’d highly recommend you try this. For about 2 months now I have been running fairly stable and happily using my system although there is still the odd stability problem. I recommend the latest beta VIA 4in1 drivers from viahardware.com if you are using any version of windows. I am using the 4.2 9s at the moment but you can try the latest ones and see what work best for you. This board has a few teething problems which take a bit of work to iron out so I wouldn’t recommend it. Documentation is pretty good on the whole but not all BIOS options are explained very well and the english is not always great. Last month the fan on the north bridge stopped working so i took it off with no adverse effects, I emailed Abit for a replacement and go no reply. I sent a letter but no reply still! Customer services are terrible and I definitely wouldn't bother with them again. There are many newer, faster boards with better technology and far less problems. I’d recommend you look at the Epox and iWill motherboards.
I purchased this motherboard 3 months ago and I have to say I thought it was great to start. Excellent bios with loads of options and a quickly had my 850 tbird running at 1050Mhz no problems.Then, as I added in my hardware things took a turn for the worse. I started getting all sorts of compatibility problems with my sound blaster like which i soon found to be very common with other users. I got random system reboots for a whole month which i eventually found out was down to a conflicting segate driver. About 1 month ago, the north bridge fan started to make a terrible noise untill it eventually stopped spinning. I emailed Abit a number of times but i never received a reply. After sales service is very poor. Over all, if your looking for a good socket A mother board look else where. I would reccomend the epox and iWill motherboards.
Abit has an enviable reputation, especially amongst the over-clocking community, and the KT7A RAID board has all the features to support this status. This Socket A motherboard can use the Athlon and Duron processors, with up to 1.5GB of memory. Abit has attempted to future-proof this board by using a 3-phase power system; basically a set of six transistors that enable a regulated supply to the CPU of up to 46 Amps. A little over-kill, we feel, but over-engineering never hurt anyone. In common with other boards tested here, this one incorporates the VIA KT133 chipset that supports 133MHz on the system and memory buses. But the main feature that sets this board apart is the inclusion of the Highpoint HTP370 Chipset. This adds an extra two IDE channels to the motherboard, each supporting the UltraDMA/ATA-100 spec. Not only does this give you a choice of eight IDE devices, but it also enables a RAID-style disk array to be established. This feature will 'stripe' two drives for simultaneous read and write access over a compound volume, giving a considerable performance increase. Alternatively, the drives can be 'mirrored' for increased data security (a copy of all data is written to the second drive, and if one drive fails the second carries on running without any data loss). The board's BIOS includes a soft-menu option to give you control over clock factors and bus speeds, and it's possible to incrementally increase the FSB (200MHz and 266MHz speeds are supported) by steps and push the clock speed to higher levels. This is a well-featured board - it even has a legacy 16-bit ISA slot - and the performance increase offered by the disk striping feature is quite considerable. Definitely a front-runner in the upgrade stakes I have just upgrades my computer with one of these motherboards complete with AMD's Athlon 1.2Ghz and I am still amazed by the speed and ease of installing these components. If yo u are looking to upgrade, then this board is a good mid ranged board with reliability.
I have had one of these little beauties for a month or so now. I can't claim that the initial move to this board was without some swearing and hair-pulling. The jumperfree board, and resulting BIOS CPU setup are good features, and the board layout is nice and clean - no hassles with the memory slots being made unaccessible by the CPU or other cards. I did have some memory hassles though, the board is not at all keen on mixing 100 and 133 DIMMs (at least not generic ones), and without setting the memory clock to 133, the 133 DIMM was unstable to say the least. I also had some problems with the chipset drivers supplied. Installing the IDE DMA driver caused my machine to slow to a crawl, so I had to do without this, which made hard drive access a bit sluggish. However, I soon purchased a pair of 30Gb IBM Deskstars, which I have put on the RAID controller as a stripe set. HDTach reports an average read speed of over 45 MB/sec, and the whole machine feels remarkable lithe, Windows starts up in about half the time (I have much too much stuff in the SysTray). I would still like to get some branded CAS2 memory to complete the picture, though stability has been pretty good - I don't turn off the machine unless I have to, and it has stayed up on occasion for up to a week crash-free. My thanks would go to a great FAQ site for this board at //go.to/kt7faq. Overall, a well-designed and implemented mainboard, worth investing in branded memory for. Can be tricky with generic memory, but the RAID feature will garner performance increases probably a good deal more noticeable in general use than those from even quite a sizeable processor upgrade.
Don't bother looking at any other m/b if you've got £140 to spend and want the best Socket A m/b on the market. Abit came through with the goods, lots of expansion and futureproofing, AGPx4, lovely Highpoint Raid/ ATA100 controller, even an ISA legacy slot for you old farts with old cards. 3 phase power supply, jumperless design, great Bios and Softmenu III. Solid construction, easy to setup, very fast performance (fastest socket A m/b on market). Can't go wrong really, documentation is good, great support for KT-7 Raid on 'net. You will not be disappointed!
Most of the time upgrading your moherboard and processor involves junkinghalf yhe components in your PC - they're too old, too slow and often just incompatible. Last time around, half of us had to junk our 66mHz memory in favour of PC100 sticks and cough up for a new graphics card. Funnily enough, provided you do have PC100 memory - and if you've got a fast Pentium 2 or slow P3 or Athlon, the chances are you have - you can actully upgrade your motherboard and processor without much grief. You can snap it up from online resellers for around £135, which may sound a lot, but before the next generation boards come in, this is as good as it gets for Athlon socket A processors. Why? First of all, for it's versatility. It will take PC100 and the marginally faster PC133 memory (the latter isn't worth buying unless you have to get new memory anyway), a huge range of AMD processors can host upto 4 USB devices and 8 EIDE drives. The 2 extra IDE slots are ATA 100 specification, which is were the RAID comes in - the hard drive upgrade suggested here can make use of this faster performance, though you can also make use of slower drives in these slots as well. The BIOS is emininently tweakable, with a temperature thermostat underneath the processor to monitor whether your overclocking (ahem) activities are about to prove an expensive mistake.
This motherboard in my opinion, is the best possible choice that anyone can make when they are looking for a solution for Socket A Athlon and Duron processors. The great thing about AMD's latest offerings is that people can upgrade from old PII/K6-2/MII systems and get a big speed increase upto Duron machines and then can upgrade safely using the same motherboard and components upto an Athlon. That is what is so good about AMD converting Duron and Athlons to the same Socket A architecture. It means that AMD can rely on a large percentage of their customers business for a long time to come. While AMD can rely on companies offering brilliant boards like ABIT do for their architecture, they are always going to be up there at the top of the processor market. This board continues ABIT's reputation as one of the best motherboard makers around. It offers so many excellent specs and details that apart from the price possibly putting some people off, this board has to be on the wish list of people going to Durons and TBird Athlons. The chipset is at the heart of a motherboard controlling all the main aspects and that is why it is important to get the best chipset possible. ABIT have done this in using VIA's latest KT133 chipset. This supporting AGP 4x for the latest graphic cards means that your system is sure to fly along when taking advantage of the many advanced features this motherboard has. There is a good possibility for expansion when using this board. There is the standard 1 AGP slot, a very spacious 6 PCI slots and the nice inclusion of an ISA slot for any legacy cards that people may have in their present systems. Obviously there is 2 USB ports, the standard serial offerings and the inclusion of UDMA 66 support for some of the latest Hard Drives although it is a little disappointing to see no inclusion of UDMA 100 support on this board although i'm sure ABIT will remedy this in future updates of the board. The boa rd has 3 DIMM memory slots supporting PC100 and PC133 MHz SDRAM upto 1.5Gb of memory in slots of between 8Mb and 512Mb. Also for setting CPU options, this board uses Softmenu III, allowing the changing of FSB speeds to alter your CPU's speed. The board comes in ATX form factor with hardware monitoring including voltage, fan speed and system temperature allowing the option of automatic shutdown on sense of excess temperature that could be damaging to components. Overall here we have a board which continues ABIT's reign at the top of the motherboard manufacturers. If I was to upgrade to a Duron or an Athlon I would most certainly do it using the ABIT KT7 motherboard.
Abit continues to be the one and only when it comes to boards that can overclock today’s processors. The KT7 Raid is no exception, Abit’s famous soft menu III is included and has some pretty impressive features in order to get the most out of your CPU. The Socket A chips have a very high overclocking potential especially the Duron. So this type of motherboard is exactly what you need in order to get it to the top. On entering the BIOS and the soft menu III you will notice that this board will let you change the voltage the FSB (front side bus) and the multiplier. You can only change the multiplier if your Athlon/Duron isn’t locked or if you have unlocked it yourself. However if like the most of us you don’t fancy doing that, you can stick with the FSB and the voltage settings. I don’t think I have seen this in a motherboard before but you can actually take the FSB of the KT7-Raid to a staggering 183Mhz! I doubt anybody will be getting to that point in a hurry. The best feature of the FSB overclocking though is that you can raise the speed in 1Mhz increments all the way to 183Mhz. Basically meaning that you can pick the exact speed which you feel is the fastest it will go and still be a stable platform. The Raid feature again I class as very useful to myself personally and to many other people in same position as myself. Raid, which stands for (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) allows you to have 4 IDE channels instead of the normal 2. Basically meaning you will be able to have 8 IDE devices instead of just 4. I’m sure many people have to decide which devices would be the most useful and have to discard the rest of them out of thought. But now I can have 2HD’s a CD a CDRW a DVD and a ZIP drive altogether. Just have to make sure you have a big enough case and decent PSU :) Abit includes a 4x AGP port (standard with the VIA chipsets) 6 PCI slots and 1 ISA slot and support for 4 USB ports. Abit continue t o support the old ISA slot for those of us who still have that one old device. Other companies decided to drop ISA for dead, and move on but this gave Abit another selling point. I have an old 10Mbit network card that I still use because it still does the job, I appreciate having that opportunity to still use it in the latest motherboards. 1 nice little extra is that you get a Heatsink and fan on the North bridge of the chipset. Never seen that before. Maybe its really necessary or maybe its there just to show they try and give you everything they can. It might even be there to push up the price either way another initiative from Abit. The stability of the board seems very reliable no problems for me, if you are overclocking though I wouldn’t blame problems on the board, its 99% certain that the chip is causing the problems at a speed it cant handle. This board is my personal recommendation for Athlon/Duron High end systems. If the Raid feature is not that necessary for you then you can pick up the KT7 for a lot cheaper with the same features.
This motherboard is fairly easy to set-up with the manual provided. It has the added bonus of software set-up - no jumpers to fiddle around with :) The RAID system works well, and all the drivers work well too, though I would advise checking the relevant sites to make sure you have the latest drivers. Be aware that you need 2 hard disks as masters, one on each channel - ABit supply you with two cables for this. It is best, if you can, to purchase too ATA-100 disks - the cables and mobo support this. (It supports ATA-66 too, but why slow down the system if you don't have to?). The only problem I came across with this board, was not with the VIA chipset (which a number of people seem to have had problems with on different boards)but with seating the processor. Unless you realise, and I had to check this, protruding above the level of the processor, in the processor slot, is a temperature module for checking operating temperature. You need to *carefully* bend this with a pair of pliers until it is below the level at which the processor is locked in. Otherwise, it was all pretty simple. As long as you RTFM, and take your time, this is an excellent mobo, and well worth the money.
Trouble free set-up of Athlon / Duron Mobo's that use KX133 and KT133 chipsets There seem to be a number of problems with the different boards that use this chipset , most problems have been identified and the board manufacturers are trying to address them as fast as they can , this is just a brief article on how to get around some of the problems I have come across when building my computers, don't get me wrong , I am not the wizz kid who discovered the answers , I went around the various sites on the net and researched the answers that cleverer guys than me had come up with . OK you have built your computer and are ready to load it up , STOP right there . Check that you have placed the various cards you have fitted to the mother board staggered in every other slot starting from the AGP slot , as each pair of slots tend to share IRQs this cuts down the chance of conflicts . Some of the boards are experiencing problems with memory management , to make sure yours doesn't , then start here . The very first thing to change is your BIOS , even if your Mobo is new the BIOS will probably not be the latest , check the version when you boot your computer and then go to the website of your Motherboard manufacturer and compare , download the latest BIOS and the correct flash tool , the instructions for flashing will also be there read them if your not familiar with flashing BIOS's , this should overcome the current rash of Dimm instability problems . There is a problem with some of these boards not recognising 128 meg Dimms (PC133 only) , if you have not bought yours yet then buy 2 x 64 meg Dimms . If you have already bought your memory then you are going to have to find a friend who will loan you a 64 meg Dimm, all you will need to do is boot the machine with a 64 meg Dimm in the slot you wish to place your 128 meg Dimm and then swop them over , that's it your system will now recognise 128 meg Dimms . To set the BIOS for best performance do the following ;- 1/ Load Optimal settings 2/ Tell the Bios where you do NOT have hard disks , this stops it wasting time looking for something that's not going to be there. 3/ Set system BIOS and ROM Bios as Cacheable this speeds system up 4/ Set memory speed to default for stability or turbo for performance . 5/ If your using Soundblaster card you MUST enable memory hole 15 - 16 , otherwise your system will either lock up or end up with the speakers screaming at you . 6/ Set 1st display device to boot to as AGP . 7/ Enable "assign IRQ for VGA" this helps to stop conflicts between AGP socket and whatever you have put in the first IRQ socket . With the above changes and settings you should have a trouble free start-up and end up with the machine you wanted