VIA KT600 Motherboard Roundup
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The Abit KV7 motherboard looks less like an enthusiast board and more like and OEM, at first glance. The short depth of the board layout itself lends the board towards less features and thus not directly at the enthusiast market. While this may be the assumption, a second look shows a second a opinion.
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The CPU socket on the board is pretty crowded due mainly to the size of the PCB. Abit did include the 4 mounting holes for larger heatsinks (or waterblocks if you're into that), though their usefulness may be up in the air due to the clutter. They also included a PCB guard under the clips for standard heatsink installation, to guard against accidental scrapes or slips during installation.
The ATX power connector is directly below the CPU socket and in fact nearly comes into contact with our installed heatsink. The clip that secures the ATX power connector is also hard to get to for uninstalling it, as it lies directly between a capacitor and the power header for the north bridge heatsink. In addition to that, the placement of the power connector itself is not preferred as it forces the large ATX cable to go over the fan on the processor. The 4-pin ATX power connector is hard to see here, but it is in the very top corner behind the PS/2 ports. Needless to say, this placement will make it tough for the installer as well.
There are three DIMM slots for memory installation, something that we will see across all of our KT600 motherboards today. In this case, they do not interfere with the AGP card or slot, and the user is able to install and remove memory with a graphics card installed.
The north bridge has a decent heatsink with a fan on it as well in case you feel the need to push the power and speed of the chipset. The only negative to this setup is that if the fan dies on the KT600, you’ll have to replace the whole heatsink/fan setup as it is all one piece.
The IDE channels on the KV7 are oddly placed for enthusiast motherboards: they are facing outward toward the back of the motherboard. This allows OEM’s and even users with smaller cases to lead the IDE cables away from the clutter of the motherboard. The floppy cable is placed below the 5th PCI slot, and if you have PCI cards installed, it will probably be a pain to remove or install into it.
The AGP slot has a decent retention clip and the 5 PCI slots should be more than adequate for all users considering the features that Abit has included on the motherboard.
The case headers (bottom corner of the board, below the IDE ports) are hard to read and require you to get the manual out to really see where each of the jumpers needs to go. Some of the other boards we reviewed on the KT600 chipset had a well-organized, color-coded headers.
Despite the small size of the Abit KV7 motherboard, they actually allow for quite a few nice features to be implemented. First, and probably most notable in these KT600 reviews, is the inclusion of two channels of SATA support, with RAID as well, all courtesy of the VIA VT8237 south bridge chipset.
On the external connections, we can see there are four USB 2.0 ports (plus two additional USB headers included on the motherboard itself for a total of 8 possible USB ports) and a 10/100-network interface. For sound, Abit included a Realtek 6-channel audio solution, and included all the necessary headers for it on the motherboard directly, as you can see. Even the optical output is included.
Abit included two SATA data cables and one power adaptor that converted a standard power connector into two SATA power connectors. One floppy and one IDE cable were included as was a USB header cable to add two additional USB ports to the machine rather easily. A back plate for the custom Abit layout was included as well.
As is typical of Abit, the KV7 had a great bios for overclocking and enthusiasts.
Here we can see the FSB settings and multiplier adjustments. The FSB is able to be set as high as 250 MHz and the multipliers go up to 22.5x. The ratios for memory settings that are available include: 3:2, 4:2, 5:2 and 6:2. All the voltages can be adjusted as well, with the CPU voltage going as high as 2.325v!! The AGP voltage reached 1.65v and the DDR voltage reached 2.8v. The north bridge voltage could be increased as well, up to 2.95v to help in overclocking potential.
There are plenty of memory timing settings as well to adjust in the KV7 bios. The settings you see here are the ones we used for the benchmarks as well.
The Abit KV7 motherboard did not get along well with a lot of the memory that we were throwing at it while on the test bench. It seemed at first to be arbitrary whether or not a particular memory configuration would work. For example, using a single DIMM of Corsair’s XMS4000 didn’t boot, but using two DIMMs, in slot 1 and 2, did POST. Switching the memory to Corsair XMS3200LL, the problem reversed, where having two DIMMs in slots 1 and 2 did not POST, but a single DIMM would. This problem carried over brands as well, as the Kingston HyperX memory showed the same kind of issues.
The issue here seems to be related mainly to the KT600 chipset itself, as many of the motherboards we tested exhibited these memory issues. We’ll tell you which ones did better when we come to them.
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