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Supports AMD Athlon/Duron 700MHz ~ 1.2GHz Socket A Processors based on 200 MHz
Chipset:VIA KT133E /VIA 686B
Memory:Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support up to 1.5 GB PC100/PC133 SDRAM module



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      07.08.2001 02:35
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      Following on from my oh-so-exciting opinion on computer cases, I’ve decided to write one on my new motherboard. Well, not actually ON my motherboard, but about it if you know what I mean? Now, hopefully, that doesn’t mean I’ve scared you off already because I’m going to try and explain everything without resorting to nerd jargon, and if I do use some techy stuff, I’ll be sure to explain it all for you. Not that this makes the subject any more interesting, mind you, but at least you’ll understand it! Following on from a slight accident while transplanting my old PC into a new case, well not really “slight accident”, more unexplained mystery, some of my expansion cards (i.e. soundcard and modem) refused to work. I spent a week searching the web, posting on computer help sites, asking friends all about my motherboard problem before finally resigning myself to stump up some cash. Rather than buy just a new motherboard for my aging AMD K6-2 500Mhz CPU (Central Processing Unit – the “brain” in your PC) I decided to splash out and upgrade to a new CPU as well. Being a student, and the fact I’d just bought a new case and CD-Rewriter, money was not exactly flowing from my wallet (the moths were on forced diet) so I plumped for an entry level CPU and associated motherboard. I eventually chose the Abit KT7E motherboard. I’d had an Abit motherboard before, and was very impressed with the ease at which it handled everything. The main reason I chose the motherboard, apart from manufacturer, was price. The KT7E seemed to be about £20 cheaper than any comparable motherboards from Scan.co.uk (as well as other sites I looked at), and was capable of taking the processor I wanted (AMD Duron 750Mhz). The KT7E takes AMD Socket A (Socket A is the type of connection that the CPU will use to plug into your motherboard) CPUs. For Durons, this is anything from 600 – 850 MHz and for AMD Athlons, this is 700MHz – 1.2 GHz. It’s also future proofed for further Socket A processors based on 200MHz front side bus. (Front side bus speed is the speed at which data is sent around the motherboard). Every motherboard uses a chip set to control it’s functions, and for the KT7E, this is the VIA Apollo KT133E chipset. It’s a fairly common chipset, being a more modern version of the KT133A chipset that’s on a lot of AMD motherboards these days. The board is capable of taking anywhere from 8Mib to 1.5Gib of SDRAM DIMMs (SDRAM is simply a type of memory, and DIMM is the type of interface the memory uses) and the motherboard can use both PC100 and PC133 types (the PCxxx number is a measure of memory speed). As far as expansion slots go, the KT7E has enough to satisfy even the richest nerd with 5 dedicated PCI slots, 1 shard PCI/ISA slot, and a 2x/4x AGP slot. (AGP, PCI and ISA are all types of interface. PCI is the common standard for most types of add on card e.g. internal modem or soundcard. ISA is the old technology which PCI replaced, and so there is only one slot of this type. AGP [Advanced Graphics Port] is specifically for your graphics card, and as most people only use 1 graphics card there is only one on offer). The connectors that come with the KT7E are also well catered for. You get two PS/2 connectors (for keyboard and mouse), two serial port connectors (you can still use a serial mouse if you have one), one parallel port connector (typically for your printer if you have one) and finally two USB ports (although there is a connector on the motherboard for you to add a further two USB ports, if you wish). You get two IDE channels/connectors (which can take up to 4 IDE devices e.g. hard drives, DVD-ROM, CD-ROM etc.) and one floppy channel/connector (which can take two floppy disk drives). The IDE channels run under the Ultra DMA 100 standard which is the most up to date s tandard for hard drives. This improves data transfer speed and data integrity even on older hard drives. The BIOS is another important part of the motherboard. It’s the software which drives the motherboard, making sure that everything is working as it should, and enabling you to change settings etc. Like the chipset I mentioned above, there are several different BIOS types. The one Abit use on this motherboard is an Award Plug ‘n’ Play BIOS. There are two main features of this BIOS which make it good (in my humble opinion) – the first is that it is totally software driven, and there is no need for you to go poking around the motherboard with a craft knife/tweezers to change settings (e.g. CPU speed), and the second is that there’s built in virus protection. It’s not up to the standard of a commercial virus detection program, but it’s nice to know that it’s there. Finally, a word about the manual. Firstly, you get a proper paper one, not something bunged onto the CD-ROM for you to print out later (after all, you need to install the motherboard to access your printer!), and it’s a single language manual. Everything is explained clearly and concisely and while some jargon is used (specifically things like PCI, Slot A, DIMM etc. all explained above), even a novice should find the manual easy to follow. The manual takes you through each step of installing a motherboard, from the physical attachment into the computer case, through setting up the BIOS settings, installing your operating system (e.g. Windows 98, Windows ME etc.) and the installation of the drivers necessary. The only real bad thing I have to say about this motherboard (and I knew this when I bought it!) is that it doesn't use RAID technology which lets you connect more than four IDE devices. IF you don't plan on having any more than four, then you don't need it! ** A note to novices ** Install ing a new motherboard is not difficult. It simply requires some care (anti static procedures, for example), confidence (in your ability and that you won’t break anything) and a lot of patience (it’s a good few hours of concentration). It’s a job that, from start to finish, should take about two or three hours, depending on your level of confidence (including installing your operating system), but if you keep all your current peripherals (mouse, keyboard, CD-ROM, graphics and sound cards and modem), you could theoretically upgrade your computer for £150. Apologies if this has been a tad technical, I’ve tried to explain everything where possible, but if I’ve done a bad job, feel free to let me know, and I’ll have another stab at it. **Abit KT7E priced today, 6 August at £92.00 from dabs.com**

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