Quality and Setup of the
ABIT SR7-8X Motherboard
ABIT SR7-8X Motherboard:
SR7-8X may appear rather ordinary at first glance, but once
we got up close and personal, we found it to be quite a capable
motherboard. The board comes standard with 5 PCI
slots, offering plenty of room for expansion, although 6 is
always preferable. However, with
the LAN and Audio integrated into the board, the likelihood
that one would miss the sixth slot would be minimal.
We were pleased to see that not only did the AGP slot have a
hinged retention clip to keep the video card firmly seated,
Abit was able to position the AGP and DIMM slots so the
video card would not prohibit easy installation and upgrading
of the system memory. It is important to note that the
SR7-8X supports up to AGP 8X to accommodate the latest
features of the newest video cards on the market today.
comes equipped with integrated AC97 compliant 2-channel
audio that should suffice for the average user. If
high end audio is something you desire, it would be best to
either get a motherboard with 6-Channel audio or pick up a
quality audio card instead. The system comes with 2
USB ports off the back of the board and four more can be
made available with a D-Bracket connected to the USB headers
on the motherboard. The one thing that is different
than other systems this reviewer has seen is that all of the
USB ports on the board are capable of USB 2. Typically
we've seen the ports divided, where the onboard would be USB
1.1 compliant and the USB 2.0 could be accessed with
additional hardware connected to a header on the board.
There are an ample combination
of MOSFETS, coils and capacitors located around the power
supply connectors to help regulate and stabilize the current
being supplied to the system. We were not thrilled with the
positioning of the ATX power supply connectors on the
SR7-8X. With the large stock cooling included with our
Pentium 4 and the ATX and ATX1 connector placement being at
the furthest reaches of the power supply cable, it was difficult
to route the cables so that they would not hinder proper airflow
across the chip. We were able to do it, but we still
feel that the layout was less than ideal.
The system board comes with a
total of three DIMM slots capable of a maximum 2GBs of
PC2700 system memory or 3GBs of PC2100 (Up to 1GB per slot). We were happy to see the IDE connectors
placed in a manner that made it easy to keep the ribbon
cables tidy and out of the airflow path. The floppy
connector lies in the vicinity where some system cases would
have a lower intake fan, yet it is positioned perpendicular
to the airflow, minimizing any impact it may have. The
Northbridge came with a heat sink held in place with
retention pins. When removed, we found a thin, even
layer of thermal grease applied to the chipset that covered
the chip completely...a nice touch. The system also
came with 3 fan headers for CPU cooling and two additional
fans, however we feel that 4 headers should be the minimum
with any system. The unit has a power LED mounted on
the board to remind the user that power is being supplied to
the system. The LED was positioned close to the BIOS
battery and reset jumper, making it difficult to miss when
one goes in to clear the BIOS.
Speaking of the BIOS, lets see
what ties all this goodness together.
One of the key
components that sets Abit apart from the rest of the
motherboard manufacturers is its BIOS. Abit has a
reputation for giving the user the most choices for
configuring, optimizing and overclocking a system.
When it comes to the BIOS, it's difficult to think of another
manufacturer that comes close to what Abit has to offer.
The SR7-8X carries on that tradition with a BIOS that has
more options than most users could ever wish for.
The majority of key settings can
be accessed from one location, the SoftMenu III Setup
screen. Within this screen the FSB can be adjusted
ranging from 100-200MHz., while the CPU/FSB/DRAM/AGP/PCI
Ratio can be adjusted in a wide variety to reach the optimal
setup for the system. Through this ratio setting, the
memory can be configured to run at conservative settings as
well as 166 and 200MHz. (333 and 400MHz. DDR).
The AGP and PCI settings can be handled by the CPU/FSB/DRAM/AGP/PCI
Ratio or it can be locked at the speed of your choice,
independent of the ratio setting. The AGP clock can be
set from 66-100MHz. in increments of 1 MHz. VCore and
Vddr voltage can also be adjusted from within the SoftMenu
III Setup screen.
The next most versatile screen
was the Advanced DRAM Control window. The system is
equipped to set a number of advanced memory settings that
help to maximize system performance, whether at default
speeds or while overclocking. There are 5 preset
Timing Setting Modes to configure the memory settings in a
single click. The settings range from Safe, Normal,
Fast, Turbo and Ultra. If you prefer to key in each
value on your own, this can be set form Manual and each
setting can be set at your discretion.
Overclocking and Sandra 2002 Pro