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ABIT IS7 Max II Advance Motherboard: We take a look at the ABIT IS7 Springdale today, and if our benchmarks are any indication, this mainstream board demonstrates that the Canterwood is not the only game in town.
 
 
Date: July 1, 2003
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

With the release of the Pentium 4 "C" 800FSB CPUs, there was also the release of the Intel 875P. As we've seen here at VL, the ticket to top Pentium 4 performance comes with the Canterwood, but a quick look around though, and you'll see that this performance comes at a price. Some people are willing to splurge on it, whereas others are a little more hesitant.

Shortly after, the more mainstream oriented i865PE chipset was released, codenamed Springdale. The Springdale offers almost every feature the Canterwood does, at a much lower cost. Could this be the P4 based mainboard to buy? We'll try to help you decide with our look at the ABIT IS7 Max II Advance.

Specifications

Processor
- Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 Socket 478 processors (800/533MHz FSB)
- Supports Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology

Chipset
- Intel® 865PE / ICH5-R RAID
- Supports Dual Channel DDR 400 Memory
- Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)

Memory
- Four 184-pin DIMM sockets
- Supports 4 DIMM Single/Dual Channel DDR 400 memory
- Supports 4 DIMM DDR 400 up to 4GB

AGP
- Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP PRO 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)

LAN
- On board 10/100MB LAN

Serial ATA RAID
- On board 2 channels Serial ATA 150MB/s data transfer rate
- Supports RAID 0/1

USB 2.0
- 8 ports USB 2.0 supports 480MB/s data transfer rate

Audio
- 6-Channel AC 97 CODEC on board
- Professional digital audio interface supports 24-bit S/P DIF optical In/Out

Media XP (Optional)
- Supports card reader function for Memory Stick™, Secure Digital™ and Type I/II CompactFlash™
- Supports Wireless Remote Control and S/PDIF Out/ Mic In/Headphone Out/USB 2.0/IEEE 1394

IEEE 1394a
- Supports IEEE 1394a at 100/200/400 Mb/s transfer rate

System BIOS
- SoftMenu™ Technology to set CPU parameters
- Supports Plug-and-Play (PNP)
- Supports Advanced Configuration Power Interface (ACPI)
- Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS

Looking at the Canterwood based IC7 Max II Advance, you'll see a lot of similarities between the two. However, the notable difference is the omission of Intel's Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT). There's been a lot of discussions, reviews and benchmarks done, and although the PAT is a nice feature, the performance gains may or may not be something you'll be able to justify as a must have, considering the price difference. Like the IC7, the IS7 supports 800MHz FSB processors (and 533MHz FSB for backwards compatibility), Hyper-Threading technology, Dual Channel DDR (up to 400MHz).

Packaging and Contents

Our box arrived a little banged up (good job UPS), but otherwise, everything came intact. Blue, black and white are the colours of the day, with everything neatly packed inside.

Other than the motherboard, ABIT throws in a replacement IO back panel, IDE and floppy cables, a couple SATA cables, power connections, driver CD, a manual, and a reference sticker with the mobo layout on it. What's nice about this sticker is you can just place it on the interior of the case, and you no longer have to rummage through your manual to figure out how to connect your case cabling.

Intel 865PE Brief

Before getting into the IS7 itself, we'll talk briefly about the brains behind the Springdale's brawn. You can grab the specifications from Intel's site, but in short, one of the big features is support for 800FSB CPUs. As enthusiasts know, the Front Side Bus is what really determines the overall system performance. In other words, when you're overclocking, 18x133 (2.4GHz) will not be as fast as 12x200 (2.4GHz). Performance will actually be pretty close though, but Hyper-Threading isn't something that is present in older 2.4GHz P4s, but is so in the P4 "C" CPUs.

The other notable feature of the 865PE is Dual Channel DDR400. Your PC3200 ram can now run full bore, and in Dual Channel mode, offering up to 6.4 GB/s of bandwidth. As we've seen with the nForce 2, and the Canterwood, this technology can add a significant boost to system performance. Ideally, you'll want to run matched pairs to get the most out of it.

Along with the Intel 865PE, and just as important is the ICH5/ICH5R Southbridge. Some of the supported features are USB2.0, SATA, 10/100 LAN, Intel's Communication Streaming Architecture, and six-channel audio. There are two items that will be of most interest though, and that's Soft SATA RAID support (present only in the ICH5R) and Hyper-Threading. The Integrated Intel RAID Technology is interesting because board manufacturers no longer need to add a 3rd party RAID controller. This should save money (for manufacturer and consumer), and PCB real estate. Our review board adds a third party controller though.

We've gone over Hyper-Threading before, but in no small words, it's a free performance boost (well, technically not free, since you have to buy a HT enabled CPU) over older, comparably clocked P4s by optimizing a system's ability to multitask. With proper software and OS support, it enables a single processor to run two separate threads of software simultaneously.

Next Page - The Board


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