Motherboards - Published on Wednesday, 24 September 2003 13:59 Written by Christopher Zell
Intel 865PE (MCH) + 82801ER (ICH5R)
Intel Pentium 4/Celeron Socket-478, 533/800 MHz FSB
4xDIMM 333/400MHz DDR (MAX 4GB)
|Integrated graphic circuit:||
1x AGP 8X
5 x 32-bit bus master PCI
4 units, ATA 100/66/33
2x 150MB/s via the Southbridge with RAID 0 support, 2x 150MB/s via a Silicon Image-circuit, total of 4x S-ATA
Realtek 10/100/1000 LAN
6-channels AC97 Codec+S/PDIF in/out on the back panel
1x on the back panel, 2x via a bracket
4 external ports , 2 internal connections for 2-ports brackets, totally up to 8 ports
~ 1600SEK (190 USD)
IS7-G looks like it's nearly identical to ABIT's Canterwood board IC7-G. Here we find both GigabitLAN (not an Intel-circuit though, but 3COM) and up to four S-ATA units can be connected. The biggest differences are that IS7-G is produced on a brown PCB and that the heart is made of a Springdale northbridge instead of a 875P chipset we find on it's big brother. We'll let the performance tests judge how much this affects the performance.
|Price and Accessibility|
The price on the IS7-G is somewhere between ABIT's own Canterwood boards IC7-G and IC7. Not an easy choice on what card one should choose. The question you got to ask yourself is simply if you think it's worth the money to get all integrated features and how big is the difference in performance between the boards really. Question number one can only the specific user answer, but hopefully question number two will get answered a bit later on in this review. One thing remains and that is how you value performance in money. If any of you has a sensible proposal for that I'd appreciate that you email me.
How does it look if we look at similar offers from other manufacturers? Well, the prices for equally equipped Springdale boards are quite the same regardless what manufacturer we choose. The fact is that the price reflects how well the boards are equipped and in this case you have to live with the pretty high price tag.
The accessibility is almost fabulously good though. The true challenge is more like finding a serious retailer who don't sell ABIT's IS7-boards. The conclusion is, perfect accessibility and a bit high price.
|Accessories and features|
The package of IS7-G isn't spectacular, but really pleasing. Manuals and drivers has it's given place in a mainboard box. Apart from that we get a I/O-bracket, two S-ATA cables with power connection, one IDE-flatcable, one floppy-flatcable and a pliable bracket with two USB 2.0 ports and two Firewire ports.
It's nice to see that ABIT chose to put the extra Firewire and USB ports on the same bracket so you don't have to mess around with a lot of brackets taking up PCI-slots. Although, we are disappointed that they still persists with the not so neat flatcables. Almost all Canterwood boards we've came in touch with has been packaged with round cables and that this would be something only guys with large wallets would use is something we won't accept. Therefore we beg to the manufacturers once again, end the flatcable era. If not for the users, do it for the reviewers sake at least. We are getting pretty tired of criticizing this.
The software package isn't something one salute either, but we guess we have to live with the illusion that the users at least don't pay for software they never need anyway. Apart from the drivers the CD includes Adobe Acrobat, DirectX 9.0, a Lo-Format utility, Award Flash and ABIT's own Hardware Doctor (which is produced by Winbond). That was it all, no P-ATA->S-ATA converters nor any round cables. Next time maybe?
Over to the boards integrated features which really impresses more than the awkward accessory package. There are a lot of S-ATA-ports, 4 to be exact. Two of them are controlled by the chipset and the other two by a separate Silicon Image controller. Unfortunately the SATA-technique hasn't really made a breakthrough yet, at least not in my house and to be honest I would've been very thankful for an extra P-ATA-channel since the burner, DVD and some harddrives has filled the existing two IDE-channels. Apart from that the IS7-G is a star in terms of connection abilities. With the bracket we can connect up to 6 USB-units and three Firewire units. That's more then acceptable and if you would need even more USB-contacts it's just to buy another bracket, or why not the ABIT Media XP frontpanel?
Then we have the soundcard, 6-channel circuit with S/PDIF in and outputs. What more can be connected? A network cable of course. We get up to GigabitLAN from the integrated 3Com circuit but unfortunately this is something which isn't used in the private home network, yet. If someone knows a cheap ISP offering GigabitLAN you are free to email me.
Then it is only the COM-port and the LPT1-port left. Nothing which controls the choice of mainboard really, but it can be nice to be able to connect the old one button mouse to the COM-port, if you want to feel a bit nostalgic a rainy autumn evening. A few more accessories and another IDE-channel and we would've been praised over this board. Over to the IS7.
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