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Review: ABIT KT7E

by David Ross on 17 May 2001, 00:00

Tags: abit, VIA Technologies (TPE:2388)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaf7

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ABIT KT7E

Whilst at CeBit we saw a lot of stuff, and some of it stuck out more than the rest. For example the blue motherboards. Did you say ‘blue’ I hear you cry: yes I sure did. Abit’s first ever coloured motherboard, the KT7E.

So what is special about this motherboard? Well after a heated discussion in a bar in Germany with some of my close friends from the net nation, we worked it out; it is basically a cheap chipset, designed for Durons and stuff. Well that won't mean much to you lot. So here it is according to Via: the chipset has been developed as a copy of the KT133A chipset but doesn't have the standard133 Bus. But the main feature of the KT133A chipset was the high bus speeds you could hit. This doesn't matter however as there are other features which you want. Like the AMD PowerNow! Technology, which is really cool by the way. It operates very smoothly and cleverly, adjusting power to the processor dynamically based on load. So why the new Chipset? Well this motherboard is a lot cheaper than the KT133A, which means that it is cheaper to YOU the end user. Also with the way that Abit have implemented it, the board looks cool, which we all know matters. There is no point having all the kit in your PC if it doesn't look good. Now all we need is blue network and sound cards. We can all cover our ram in heat sinks so that don't matter, and you can get a Hercules or a Gigabyte graphics cards - both are blue.

Full Specs :-

ABIT's Socket A motherboard is now even better. Already offering 3 DIMM, 1 AGP, 1 ISA, and 6 PCI, the KT7E now also adds support for 200MHz FSB The KT7E has everything you could want in a top-of-the-line mainboard. If that isn't enough, add in Ultra DMA 100 support and ABIT's SoftMenuTM III. Your demands were heard, met and then surpassed with the KT7E

[ Specifications ]

CPU
1.Support AMD Duron 600MHz ~ 850 MHz or future Socket A Processors based on 200 MHz
2.Support AMD Athlon 700MHz ~ 1.2GHz or future Socket A Processors based on 200 MHz
3.Support 200 MHz Alpha EV6 bus for the AMD Athlon & Duron processors Supports

Chipset
1.VIA KT133E /VIA 686B
2.Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
3.Supports AGP 2X/4X
4.Supports 100/133MHz Memory Bus Settings

Memory

1.Three 168-pin DIMM sockets support PC100/PC133 SDRAM module
2.Supports up to 1.5 GB MAX. (8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512MB SDRAM)

System BIOS
1.SoftMenu™III Technology to set CPU parameters
2.Award Plug and Play BIOS
3.Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS


Multi I/O Functions
1.2 Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports support Ultra DMA 33/66/100
2.PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse Connectors
3.1 Floppy Port (up to 2.88MB)
4.1 Parallel Port (EPP/ECP)
5.2 Serial Ports
6.On board USB header for two extra USB channels

Miscellaneous
1.ATX form factor
2.1 AGP slot, 6 PCI slots and 1 ISA slot
3.Hardware monitoring - Including Fan speed, Voltages, System environment temperature
4.Built-in Wake on LAN header
5.Built-in Wake on Ring header
6.Built-in IrDA TX/RX header

I haven't seen any other motherboards based on the KT133E Chipset, meaning Abit might have a niche here. Seems a bit strange really; Abit released the KT7, KT7A, and now the E? They are fully behind the AMD platform, but they might be shooting themselves in the foot, unless this mobo is a lot cheaper - which it is aimed to be.

The board: -

(Yes it *is* blue)

When you look at this, the first thing which you see, apart from the fact that it is blue, is that it looks like the same motherboard used in the KT7 and KT7A boards. This board is VERY similar and looks like the same development / production lines could have been used, just with the different chipset, and the different PCBs. This means that the reinvestment in to the production line isn't needed. The standard layout for Abit motherboards in the KTX range, the 3 Dimm slots, 6 PCIs, 1 AGP, and an ISA. This is a lot of expansion for a budget system

The SouthBridge: -

The Active NorthBridge Cooling:-

The thing I love about Abit motherboards is the lack of onboard sound, being one thing which I really hate. It seems pointless. Even if it can be disabled it really seems stupid to put it on motherboards. However the KT7E would be one board I would expect to see it on due to the budget level it is aimed at.

When using the system the KT7E BIOS also features SoftMenu III, 4 way memory tweaking and all of the settings you would expect to see from a board of this nature, just like on the KT7A

One thing I saw when I got this board, in fact the main thing to shout out to me, was the fact there is no onboard RAID. When we get a motherboard from a manufacturer we always get the top end (with Raid etc.) and I was surprised to not see this, perhaps which is a cost cutting factor. Also a needed factor - if someone needs the RAID once they have this board they would have to get an Abit PCI Raid controller (VIA 686B Southbridge and features native UDMA/100 support). In my own eyes Raid is pointless for most end users and it doesn't carry the reliability we need in today's world. I personally don't run Raid. (yeah but you got 160scsi m8 ;p – ed)

Right, so this is a budget low end board right? Right. So it will suck for performance? Wrong. As usual with Abit motherboards, the bios with Softmenu III is built around the central object: the CPU.. As usual this is a nice feature to the motherboard and it is what all of us overclocking freaks are used to. This board has the same bios and settings as the KT7A and KT7 motherboards, including all of the settings from CPU Core to memory settings.

As I stated at the beginning this mobo is based on the KT133E chipset which is designed for budget users. Yep, people running Durons, aka people who are basing their system around the EV6 bus system from AMD. There is the 100/200 FSB; which is supposed to be a restriction of the chipset. This should basically be stopping people from buying the motherboard. This could be a worrying problem for all manufacturers, meaning Abit is out there with a motherboard around £20 cheaper than any other board on the market, but it overclockers like a beast? Who is responsible, no one knows - but hey, it rocks;] But Abit might be shooting themselves in the foot.

Testing :-

Running on a Duron 850 (but at 7X multiplier to get high bus speeds.)

Graphics Card - Asus Geforce Pure 64MB
Memory - 256MB Crucial PC133 Cas 2 RAM
Cooling - GlobalWin WBK38
HD - 18GB Quantum Atlas 10K II
CD/DVD - Teac 32X CD ROM
Sound - SB Live 1024
Network - Intel Pro 100 Management

Running IWill KT133A Motherboard

Running on the KT7E Motherboard :

Si Soft (CPU Benchmark) Running on KT7E

Dhrystone [133] - 42265 MIPS

Whetstone [133] - 21013 MFLOPS

Dhrystone [147] - 58265 MIPS

Whetstone [147] - 27011 MFLOPS

This board is new; no-one really knows what it is capable of. We might have been lucky. On the other hand we might have not been. This board also seems a lot more stable than the IWill which is in my system (now crashes daily, I sense a swap out happening.) Basically I hope you can see what we have proven and seen in this review, this board is... cheap. Fast... no onboard stuff... good expansion... oh yeah and it overclocks!

Either Abit have been naughty or VIA have released a new revision in the KT133X chipset range, which really kicks. We can only tell with time, I would be interested in seeing what other manufacturers do about the situation. Currently I don't know of anyone else working on a board but we will find out soon.

This board is going to do well. It looks good, and it is cheap. It has all the cool features, settings, and expansion which you require from a mobo, especially things like overclocking, and a stable Northbridge chipset. I still don't understand what this motherboard is doing on the market ;) But hey I like it. Another question I have to ask will the SIS735 Chipset beat it?

I suggest this board to anyone. If your upgrading soon, get one. They are cheap and good for overclocking, and while it is developed for Durons you can still run TBirds on it at huge FSBs. I would suggest you grab one of these boards and an AXIA and have some fun. If you are waiting for a SMP Tbird system or Palomino, grab one still. if you need an upgrade. There are a lot of delays we are seeing on the market at the moment.

What we liked: -

  • It is, err, BLUE!

  • Cheap

  • Overclockable

  • Reliable and Stable

  • Soft Menu III with full CPU Multiplier changing

  • Great Expansion.

  • No Onboard sound

Missing something: -

  • Perhaps the lacking of RAID

  • Perhaps a Blue Power LED or a Blue Northbridge HSF.

This gets the Hexus.net Editors Choice for Power and Performance. It is a work of art, a quality motherboard with speed, power and performance with a good price tag! Well done Abit!